ST. PAUL - Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that he wouldn’t show his lines during the morning skate prior to Game 4.
So take this entire blog with a grain of salt - it might be worthless by 8:30 p.m. when the Blues and Wild meet tonight in a pivotal contest (FSMW, NBCSN, Y98 FM).
But if the lines do stick, the Blues will be going back to something that worked for the majority of the regular season.
Do these look familiar?
Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund
Chris Porter - Steve Ott - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman - Zbynek Michalek
“Those guys and I have a had a lot of success together,” Backes said of being reunited with Steen and Oshie. “They work their butts off and I try to help out. It’s a line combination that seemed to work no matter what situation we were put in. It seemed to have a good effect on the game, and that’s what we’re looking for this evening.”
“We want to make them familiar with each other,” Hitchcock said. “We know it’s going to be a hard game. There’s great chemistry and has been all year, especially with the first two lines, so we want to stay with that. Same thing with the first two D-pairs. We’ve reached a stage on our own team where we’ve got to expect a little bit more from guys and put them in a position to succeed, so we put them with guys they’ve spent most of the year with.”
The only change to the lineup appears to be Marcel Goc, who will likely be replaced with Chris Porter on the fourth line.
“Portsy is a heck of a player. Probably the hardest working guy on our team by far,” Blues forward Steve Ott said. “His speed is a huge factor, physicality, also his puck play. He’s been very good for us. He had some injury trouble earlier in the year and that’s the only setback he’s had, because the rest of his game has been phenomenal. If I do get that chance to play with him, I know he’s going to be buzzing.”
A RESILIENT BUNCH
Trailing 2-1 in the series, the Blues pointed out their resiliency throughout the season as a reason to not be concerned.
“We’ve had stretches where we haven’t played well, and then we win five, 10, 12 games in a row,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “We’re resilient in this room and we’re not going to stop no matter what the series is at or what the score is.
“You’re not always going to win four games straight,” he added. “This is going to go right the edge.”
A win tonight means this series is back to square one and will come down to a best of three.
“If we win (tonight), then its advantage us,” Hitchcock said. “For the home team in every series, Game 4 sets up a lot. It’s a big game for both teams, but I like our ability to rebound and play a better hockey game.”
Jake Allen made 21 saves in Game 3 and allowed fewer than three goals for the 11th consecutive game. His .933 save-percentage and 1.69 goals-against average rank sixth and third, respectively, among goalies in the postseason.
Vladimir Tarasenko ranks second in the League with three goals in the playoffs. Kevin Shattenkirk ranks second with four assists.
The Blues were held without a power-play opportunity in Game 3 - it’s the first time in franchise history the Blues did not get a power play in a playoff game (records date back to 1990).
The Blues are hosting watch parties for tonight’s Game 4. Here are the featured locations for tonight’s game: Ballpark Village, Buffalo Wild Wings (1244 S. Kirkwood Rd), HotShots (1636 Country Club Plaza, St. Charles) and Llewelyn’s Pub (2420 Taylor Rd, Wildwood).