It appears as if Tuesday’s game could feature one of Ken Hitchcock’s patented “statement” lineups, which he tends to assemble as an overreaction to his team playing in a sluggish fashion. While there will be plenty of changes against Nashville, perhaps the most notable adjustment–if it ultimately plays out–is that the Blues’ fourth line could receive a shakeup for the first time since the Blues’ 8-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 12, when Hitchcock inserted Dmitrij Jaskin in place of Ryan Reaves as part of another “statement” lineup. That was arguably the low point of the Blues’ season, and since the fourth line was restored the Blues are 9-3-1.
While the line of Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, and Ryan Reaves hasn’t been ridiculously productive in terms of offense–they have a combined seven goals and 10 assists through 81 man games–they’ve arguably been the Blues’ most consistent line this year in terms of providing effort on the forecheck and not getting punished in the defensive zone. As recently as Friday’s win over New Jersey, the group was receiving praise for their performance after Brodziak set up Reaves for a goal.
Now, though, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford wrote Monday, it appears as if Ty Rattie will replace either Reaves or Upshall in the lineup Tuesday. It’d be a shock if Reaves wasn’t the player removed, since Rattie hasn’t previously shown an ability to play left wing at the NHL level, while Reaves has only played that position on a very limited basis. Upshall is also a part of the team’s penalty kill, while Reaves generally doesn’t play special teams.
Nail Yakupov is also expected to replace Jaskin on the third line. Yakupov, who has two goals and three assists in 17 contests, has played in just three of the team’s past 13 games. Jaskin, meanwhile, has generally been an effective physical presence, but he’s barely made any offensive impact at all, as he’s got just one goal and five assists in 27 games. He’ll likely sit on Tuesday for the first time since October 15.
The Blues’ top two lines will also be adjusted. Jaden Schwartz will play center for the first time since October, playing between Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko to form a line of the Blues’ top three point producers. Meanwhile, Alexander Steen will move back to wing and play once again with Paul Stastny, who he began the season playing on a line with. Those two will remain with David Perron, who had strong chemistry with Stastny before being moved onto Patrik Berglund’s line.
Finally, defenseman Carl Gunnarsson appears to have recovered from his lower-body injury, but he’ll remain out as Brad Hunt, who has two assists in two games, sticks in the lineup alongside Kevin Shattenkirk.
Here’s what the Blues’ lineup could look like on Tuesday:
Update, 1:51 PM: Despite threats to the contrary yesterday, the Blues’ fourth line won’t be broken up on Tuesday. Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie are expected to be the healthy scratches.