ST. LOUIS --
The St. Louis Blues
will make a couple changes to their lineup heading into Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Coach Ken Hitchcock has decided to flip his top two centers for tonight's game, meaning David Backes
will now be between Andy McDonald
and Alex Steen
, while Patrik Berglund
will once again join David Perron
and T.J. Oshie
Also, Matt D'Agostini
will replace Chris Stewart
in the lineup on the third line.
When asked what he's looking for, Hitchcock said, "More o-zone time, better o-zone play, more tenacity on the puck, more reckless. We've made the switch before short-term and it's worked.
"We just feel like we need a different energy. I just think for us to win the series ... they're a big team, they're a physical, big team, and we need to play with more tempo, more speed throughout our lineup. This allows us to play that way the way it's built. With switching the lines there with D'Agostini, it gives us more speed. We just want to see how it looks because for me, they're a team that wears you down. We need to make them spend more time in their zone more than they want."
Oshie, Perron and Berglund are no strangers to playing together. They're Blues first-round draft picks who came up through the organization together and are close as well off the ice.
"There's going to be a lot of energy," Oshie said. "We've been through a lot together away from the rink, at the rink. We've been here from the start for all of us ... Perry was here a year earlier, but it seems like we all kind of grew up together and we've got this sense of closeness.
"... We've got those young legs, as Walt [Keith Tkachuk
] used to say. I think we compliment each other well. I need to bring more intensity and as much intensity as I can into those two; try to carry it along with me, because when both of them have their feet moving, they're hard to stop."
D'Agostini has only dressed in one postseason game [Game 2 of the first round against San Jose] and is looking forward to providing a boost.
"Just go out there, try to get involved early and get into the game as quick as possible," D'Agostini said. "... Any time after a loss, a change could spark the guys.
"It's been tough watching. You know you always feel like you can contribute. Me personally, I feel like I can help this team win. I'm happy to be back in there and looking forward to tonight."
Hitchcock said it's nothing against Stewart, who's pointless in five playoff games.
"I'm not unhappy with Stewy at all," Hitchcock said. "I think he's been fine for me, but we just feel like we would like to play with more speed in our lineup ... number one, and number two is we want to have a different look on one of the power-play units and that's where Dags excels. ... We'd like to see him get some PP time if we get there. He's very effective at where he goes. He's a guy that's willing to stand in there and absorb the shot."
With Backes, it gives him a different perspective with two more skill guys and he can continue to be more responsible defensively.
"Those guys are supremely talented and I'm hoping to be a supporting piece to it, take care of the defensive zone and let their offensive instincts and their skill show up," Backes said of McDonald and Steen. "If we can do that, those guys will have great nights and we'll have a great night as a team."