St. Louis Blues’ David Backes and T.J. Oshie Out With Concussions; Questioning Hitchcock’s Strategy


Unfortunately, the St. Louis Blues are going to have to make due without their captain, David Backes, and Olympic hero T.J. Oshie. Both players suffered concussions last game against the Dallas Stars, and as it doesn’t appear that there’s an exact timetable for their return. Paul Stastny has been out but could return as early as Saturday. Needless to say, the lines are going to be a bit thin until the Blues can get healthy. Chris Pinkert of the Blues reported that defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk says the Blues need to “stay with the structure”. My question is, what structure?

I’m probably going to take a lot of heat for the comments I’m about to make, But I can’t keep quiet on the subject of  coach Ken Hitchcock’s line strategies. Let me be blunt. I think they’re absurd. I know it’s early in the season, and early on there is always going to be line tinkering, but putting players like Steve Ott with our top point producers is ineffective. Some things you should just know without having to try. You don’t see people going around sticking fingers in electrical sockets, and you don’t see people purposely putting their hand on a hot stove just to see what happens. We all know there are certain things that you don’t have to try to know it isn’t going to end well.

More from St. Louis Blues

Why does Patrik Berglund keep getting playing time with our top guys? The Blues have the depth to have two dominant top lines. I think it’s ludicrous when you take guys that can’t score and put them with guys that can, especially on a team that is as talented as the Blues are. Hear me out. In a traditional setup of four lines, we could have Stastny at center on the first line with Backes, Oshie, and Alex Steen all battling to keep their first line role. Whoever is producing the least gets moved to the third line. That makes the first line liquid, and keeps Steen, Backes, and Oshie motivated to keep their first line spots.

On the second line, why would you not have Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko with Jori Lehtera? Tarasenko and Schwartz have been line mates for some time now, and of course we all know Tarasenko and Lehtera have their chemistry. Give those top two lines equal playing time. Then the third line would be made of Berglund, Joakim Lindstrom, and the worst producer out of Steen, Backes, and Oshie.

Berglund is just outmatched on any line higher than the third. He’s not successful on the higher lines, but he may find that success playing on a lower line with Lindstrom and a quality scorer that comes down. That gives the Blues three solid scoring lines and then a wrecking line. When you put players like Ott or Berglund out there on the higher lines, they’re outmatched and take the wind right out of the sails of our point producers. I don’t care if someone thinks it’s not fair to have a player like Oshie, Steen or Backes on a third line. Life isn’t fair. They play hockey; it shouldn’t be political. To me, it seems like Hitchcock has tried to avoid certain setups. Don’t jeopardize the team’s success to try to make people happy. That’s all I’m saying.