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Blues coach Hitchcock coy regarding Backes

by Louie Korac

CHICAGO -- If St. Louis Blues captain David Backes is able to play in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-MW, CSN-CH), coach Ken Hitchcock wasn't tipping his hand.

Backes was not on the ice with the Blues, who lead the best-of-7 series 2-1, for the morning skate, and Hitchcock said he wasn't available to skate, then started to have some fun with the media.

"He's not going to play unless he's healthy. You never know, he could be skating at another rink," Hitchcock said. "He could be doing something else, you don't know that stuff. There's a lot of rinks here in Chicago. So he could be doing other things. But he's not going in the lineup unless he's a player.

"If he's a player, the way he plays is going to have a huge impact in the series. So if he skated somewhere else and is in fine-tune conditioning, you'll see him [Wednesday]."

Backes did not play in Game 3, won by Chicago 2-0, after he took an illegal hit to the head from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who was suspended three games by the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Hitchcock didn't close the door on his captain returning to the lineup Wednesday.

"On this one, I could probably be a liar," Hitchcock said. "I wouldn't evaluate our roster right now, until you see it [Wednesday]. Just be careful. Put in pencil today, not pen. I might be fooling with you all."

The Blues will not have veteran left wing Brenden Morrow for the remainder of the series. Morrow played in Game 1, sat out Game 2 and returned to play Game 3. He missed the final three games of the regular season with a foot injury. Forward Derek Roy, who Hitchcock said was "whacked around a little bit" in Game 2 and missed the previous game, skated with a regular line Wednesday and is expected to return.

Here are the projected lineups:


Steve Ott - Alexander Steen - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Derek Roy - Patrik Berglund - Adam Cracknell

Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jordan Leopold - Roman Polak

Ryan Miller

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Ian Cole, Carlo Colaiacovo, Dmitrij Jaskin, Magnus Paajarvi, Niklas Lundstrom

Injured: David Backes (upper body), Brenden Morrow (foot)


Bryan Bickell - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp - Michal Handzus - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Andrew Shaw - Brandon Saad

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Sheldon Brookbank

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Brent Seabrook (suspension), Jeremy Morin, Peter Regin, David Rundblad, Joakim Nordstrom, Klas Dahlbeck

Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder surgery)

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