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Desperate Blues juggle lines for Game 5 against Predators

Forward Vladimir Sobotka moves to No. 1 unit with St. Louis facing elimination

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Facing elimination, the St. Louis Blues are juggling their lines for Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Nashville Predators on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Vladimir Sobotka, who has played left wing, right wing and center mostly on the third line, will move to the top line with center Paul Stastny and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko. Jaden Schwartz will move down to the second line to play left wing with center Patrik Berglund and right wing Alexander Steen, who has routinely missed practices playing through a lower-body injury. The third line will have wings David Perron, who drops from the second line, and Magnus Paajarvi centered by Jori Lehtera.


[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Predators series coverage]


The Blues, who have scored eight goals in the first four games of the series, two in the past two games, trail the best-of-7 series 3-1.

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Sobotka snipes short side equalizer

Sobotka has five points (two goals, three assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He rejoined the Blues from the Kontinental Hockey League on April 9.

"He's had a really strong playoff for us," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said. "He's been very effective and it's not hard to figure out why. You get into playoff hockey and to have success, you want speed, you want skill, but the level of competitiveness goes up.

"When he plays the way that he does and he gets to the hard areas, he protects the puck, he wins battles offensively, opens up time and space for other people and creates situations and opportunities for himself as well."

Stastny has one assist in the series. He missed all but the final game of the first round against the Minnesota Wild with a lower-body injury.

"Our backs are against the wall here. We have to do something," Stastny said. "I think I said that last game. We had a lot of chances and had to create a lot to score and they didn't go in. We're not lacking any confidence.

"We know something needs to happen. If you lose a couple games in a row, obviously you have to shake things up a little bit. This way you just spread it out a little bit."

The fourth line will reunite Kyle Brodziak, who was a healthy scratch in Game 4, with wings Scottie Upshall and Ryan Reaves.

"This time of year, you don't ask questions," said Brodziak, who has two assists and is minus-3 in eight playoff games. "You put in the work you need. If they don't feel your game's up to the level that it needs to be, then you've got to work on it and get it back where it needs to be. Like I said, it's tough; you want to be a part of it, but hopefully use the last few days to try to get it to the level I know I can play at."

Video: STL@NSH, Gm4: Allen shuts pads to rob Arvidsson

Yeo coached Brodziak with the Wild from 2011-15.

"When I talked to him two days ago, it was a reset for him with the understanding to take a step back here," Yeo said, "and we know he'll come out and play a real strong, poised, confident, veteran-type game for us [Friday], and that's where we're going to need it the most."

The Blues rank 15th of the 16 playoff teams at 8.3 percent (2-for-24 overall, 1-for-9 in the second round). The New York Rangers are at 7.7 percent; 2-for-26).

Defenseman Joel Edmundson was working on the second unit at practice on one of the points with Colton Parayko.

"It's worth a look," Yeo said. "It's worth checking it out in practice and see how it looks."

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