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Oshie, Backes Reunited for Game 2

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - After a 4-2 loss in Game 1, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock says he won’t change his lineup.

But he might make a tweak.

In fact, expect T.J. Oshie and David Backes to be reunited on the same line when the puck drops on Game 2 on Saturday at 2 p.m. (NBC, Y98 FM).

“There’s going to be instant chemistry there,” Oshie said after the team’s practice Friday at the Ice Zone. “We’ve played together for so long that when we play with someone else, we usually know it’s only a matter of time before we get back together.”

Late in Game 1 and at Friday’s practice, Hitchcock swapped Oshie with Berglund. For now, that’s the only tweak he’s expected to make.

“Not making any lineup changes,” Hitchcock said. “We need to play better. We need to play our way at a higher level, and if we do that, we’ll be in good shape. I think every aspect of our game needs to be amped up a little bit if we expect to beat this team. They’re a real good team, and we’re going to have to be on top of our game to beat them.”

It’s a safe assumption that the Blues weren’t on top of their game when the best-of-7 series opened on Thursday. Hitchcock liked the energy in the first period and in the third, but said his team was outplayed in the second.

“I thought they out-checked us. I thought their determination to defend was greater than ours was,” Hitchcock said. “There were ebbs and flows. We were really good in stages, they were better in more stages. I think their checking and their compete on the puck was at a little bit higher level throughout the lineup than ours was.

“They make you earn your stripes. It’s our job to earn our stripes,” Hitchcock added. “I thought we had times where we let them off the hook when we didn’t have to, and that fed the engine that fed the odd-man rushes. We gave up too many and it was a lot of the time when we had the puck. It was us having the puck in the offensive zone, getting checked off the puck, turning it over, and boom, they’re gone. And they’ve got the foot speed to go. We fed that engine a little too much.”

ALLEN STAYS IN

Jake Allen said he felt comfortable in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut Thursday. He stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced.

“It was just another game for me,” Allen said. ““The stakes were a little more meaningful, but it was another game.

Including the regular season, Allen has allowed two or fewer goals in nine consecutive games, stopping 216 of 228 shots (1.40 goals-against average, .947 save-percentage).

“We got one game out of the way,” Allen said of Thursday’s loss. “It wasn’t our best. It will only get better from here…once we get a complete game in there, the result will be better. We know what to do, we know what to expect now.”

PROJECTED LINES

Forwards

Dmitrij Jaskin - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Patrik Berglund

Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves

Defense

Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Zbynek Michalek

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalie

Jake Allen

BLUE NOTES

Alexander Steen became the fifth Blues player to score at least two shorthanded goals in the postseason, joining Scott Young, Doug Gilmour, Brett Hull and Peter Zezel.

Paul Stastny leads all current Blues with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 22 playoff games. Ten of those points came against Minnesota in the first round last season.

The Blues pregame rally begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Clark Avenue Plaza outside Scottrade Center and features live music and food from Pappy’s Smokehouse and Strange Donuts. Doors to Scottrade Center open at 12:30 p.m. The Blues are encouraging fans to allow additional travel time due to traffic from the Cardinals game and the “I Love Lucy” show at Peabody Opera House.

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