-- The biggest surprise may have been for St. Louis Blues
coach Ken Hitchcock to finally pull the trigger on forward Chris Stewart
, who has had an off-year by his standards.
Stewart will be a healthy scratch Saturday when the Blues play host to the San Jose Sharks
in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
After dropping to 15 goals following back-to-back 28-goal seasons, Hitchcock feels there's more that could be had from the Toronto native.
"We need more from him," Hitchcock said. "This is certainly not based on one hockey game. We just need more.
"From that position on our hockey club, that third line role, we need more tenacity, more determination, more second and third effort on the puck. We need all of that from that position. I think the opposition got in from their positioning and we need to get it from ours if we expect to change the outcome."
Stewart, who dressed in Game 1 and played on the team's third line with Jason Arnott
and Vladimir Sobotka
, was visibly disappointed after the morning skate.
"My number wasn't on the board. My play wasn't good enough last game," Stewart said. "We're fighting for our lives every day. I had the opportunity to step up and didn't get the job done. At the end of the day, it is what it is. This isn't the time of the year to pout or get down on yourself. We're a team, we've got to stick together and they're going to need me eventually in this series, and when I get the chance again, I'll be ready."
Teammates are on full alert: don't produce and your name could also be missing from the lineup card.
"I think it's a little bit of a message, but I think [Hitchcock] also has his game plan and the way he wants us to play," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk
said. "I think he's going to try to implement players in here, whether we're at home or on the road from a game to game basis and see what he can change up.
"That's another reason why they're in the lineup. You look at the guys coming in, there's some energy players there that can skate, hit, keep us on track as far as the way we can play and keep us sticking to our game plan."
It's a position Stewart's not familiar with, though.
"No. But you can understand," Stewart said. "I understand the game well, so I do get where [Hitchcock's] coming from. I do hope I get a chance to get back in there and show him that I can play. Now, I'll just wait for the time.
"There's obviously more to give. Also, you do need the opportunity. I didn't get the most ice time in the world last game [15:22], but it's up to me to earn it. I've got to go out there with the ice time I do get and show them that I deserve more. You look at our team and our depth, there's guys that demanded the ice time and I wasn't one of them. That's why am I where I am right now."
"It's a pretty bad feeling, but like I said, this is the time of year that it's no time to pout or be down on yourself," Stewart added. "We're all professionals here, and we're all a team. It's one game at a time."