ST. LOUIS - On Sunday, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock promised an injury update on Blues captain David Backes and rookie Robby Fabbri after Monday’s morning skate.
It’s Monday. The morning skate has wrapped up. Here’s the update:
“We’re going to dress the same lineup for warm-up that we dressed the last game,” Hitchcock said. “Next question.”
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun followed up: “So does that mean Backes and Fabbri will be game-time decisions, Hitch?”
Hitchcock: “They’ll dress up for warm-up, then we’ll run a further evaluation after warm-up.”
Naturally, with a pivotal Game 5 of the Western Conference Final just hours away (7 p.m., NBCSN, Y98 FM), the Blues’ coach is playing things pretty close to the chest.
Backes played just 5 minutes and 32 seconds in Game 4 and saw his last shift with 5:14 remaining in the first period. He did remain on the bench for the final two periods but did not play. Fabbri took a hard hit from Sharks forward Tommy Wingels in the first period Saturday, but remained in the game long enough to record an assist, his team-leading 14th point of the season. Fabbri played 9 minutes and 21 seconds, and just 52 seconds in the third period.
If either player can’t play, it’ll be a big loss for the Blues, who regained home-ice advantage in the series and have an opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series tonight.
The Blues held an optional morning skate today, and with Backes and Fabbri's status in question, who knows what the lines could look like tonight. But, if both Backes and Fabbri can play, and Hitchcock sticks to the same lineup he used for Game 4, expect something like this:
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - David Backes
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Magnus Paajarvi - Kyle Brodziak - Dmitrij Jaskin
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
ALLEN STARTS AGAIN
After making 31 saves in his first start of this postseason on Saturday, Blues goalie Jake Allen will be back in between the pipes again in tonight’s Game 5.
“We had a really good goalie (Elliott) playing, but we were relying on the good goalie all the time,” Hitchcock said of his decision. “We weren’t playing for Ells. We were relying on him. There’s a big difference. Ells was standing on his head and we were giving up too many quality scoring chances, too many easy chances, too many odd-man rushes. We were getting comfortable thinking the goalie could stop everything. We just needed to complete a lot harder for whoever was in goal. That's why I made the change.”
Allen said after Game 4 that he wasn’t nervous, that he had learned a lot by watching the playoffs unfold. He also said having a close relationship with Elliott has been helpful for both guys.
“I’ve said it a million times. It’s a scenario we’re very fortunate to have,” Allen said. “It’s no fun, any goalie can tell you, when you have a partner that you either don’t get along with or you have a rivalry with or something like that.”
So what did Elliott say when Allen was given the start in Game 4?
“He just told me to go get them, that it’s my chance now,” Allen said. “I don’t think you need to say much. We both understand, we’re both pretty similar in that aspect. We have each other’s backs.”
In Game 4, Troy Brouwer became the first Blues player to score two power-play goals in a playoff game since Doug Weight on April 20, 2003.
Kyle Brodziak recorded his first career multi-goal playoff game, including his first career shorthanded playoff goal, in a 6-3 win in Game 4.
Paul Stastny ranks second overall in the playoffs with a 59.2 percent success rate in the face-off circle.
The fourth line (which Hitchcock insisted on calling a third line today) of Paajarvi, Brodziak and Jaskin combined for two goals, two assists eight shots on goal and a plus-2 rating in Game 4.
Fabbri leads the Blues in points with 14, the second-most ever by a Blues rookie in a single playoff year (Joe Mullen had 18 in 1982).
Tonight’s Playoff Plaza Party begins at 3:30 p.m. and features live music from Trixie Delight beginning at 4:30 p.m. Louie and Blue Crew will make an appearances, and fans will have chances to win great prizes and purchase food and drink outside at Clark Avenue Plaza.