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At the Rink: Jets vs. Blues

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets will each make subtle changes to their lineups ahead of their game Monday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-MW).

For the Blues (11-5-1), it's more about balancing lines out after back-to-back losses. For the Jets (8-8-2), it's about regaining some confidence lost in their recent five-game losing streak (0-4-1).

The Blues will move David Backes to the top line between Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jori Lehtera to a second-line center role.

Coach Ken Hitchcock said it's more geared toward getting everyone going.

"It's less based on Backes and more based on more secondary scoring," Hitchcock said. "We've sat on one line.

"David can play anywhere. He can play there, he can play the next line, whatever. We want to get an identity with the Lehtera line. That's a weighty line [with Dmitrij Jaskin and Troy Brouwer], that's a line that can really cycle the puck. We've got to get more secondary scoring. Our goal is to help other people find an identity with a line like that that brings a lot of weight and size to see if we can create more offensive zone time. It's not going to be long before teams can sit on one line and then we lose the impact of having some versatility. We've been kind of based on versatility here. We need to make sure we've got other people that can contribute offensively."

Steen, who's played with Backes in the past primarily with T.J. Oshie, said it won't be much of a difference.

"He's extremely good at creating space," Steen said of Backes. "He's smart with little stick plays and getting in the way of guys creating that extra second for yourself. Obviously he's great on the forecheck, too; a heavy body.

"[Backes] and I have played a lot together over the last few years, so it'll be easy to get reunited tonight."

The Jets, who wrap up a four-game trip after being outscored 18-6, will insert defenseman Adam Pardy into the lineup and pair him with Dustin Byfuglien, and Anthony Peluso will step in and play on the fourth line. They will also move Mathieu Perreault to the top line with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, and drop Andrew Ladd to play on the second line with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers.

"I'm not looking to make a change in the lines to right what happened to us [Saturday] night," Jets coach Paul Maurice said in light of a 7-0 loss to the Nashville Predators. "To me, it's not a function of the chemistry on the lines. I'm looking for all our guys up front to manufacture some confidence and to make plays when they see them to be made."

The Jets, who held a limited optional skate Monday morning, will start goalie Michael Hutchinson, who was pulled after allowing three goals on seven shots Saturday. Hutchinson will be opposed by Jake Allen, who will make his fifth straight start for St. Louis.

Here are the projected lines:


Mathieu Perreault - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Andrew Ladd - Mark Scheifele - Nikolaj Ehlers

Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Drew Stafford

Anthony Peluso - Andrew Copp - Alexander Burmistrov

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Adam Pardy - Dustin Byfuglien

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back)

Scratched: Ben Chiarot, Paul Postma, Nic Petan


Alexander Steen - David Backes - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Jori Lehtera - Troy Brouwer

Magnus Paajarvi - Scott Gomez - Robby Fabbri

Jeremy Welsh - Kyle Brodziak - Scottie Upshall

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Injured: Paul Stastny (foot), Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Steve Ott (upper body)

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Ryan Reaves

Status report: Pardy will replace Chiarot; Peluso replaces Petan. ... Welsh, recalled from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Sunday, will make his Blues debut in place of Reaves.

Who's hot: Little has two goals and two assists in three games. ... Tarasenko has three goals in two games. Lehtera had two assists in the Blues' last game after going without a point in six straight. Steen has three goals and two assists in five games.

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