The St. Louis Blues
will have a different look for Game 1
of their opening NHL playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings
on Tuesday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca 8 p.m. ET
) -- at least different than their look in the last 15 games.
That's how long forward T. J. Oshie has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot. But Oshie will be back in the lineup Tuesday at Scottrade Center.
Oshie, who has been practicing with the team for a week, will be on a line with centre Patrick Berglund and left winger David Perron. Oshie played only 30 games this season, but scored seven goals and 13 assists while averaging some 19 minutes per game.
The insertion of Oshie is no big surprise. But the player going the other way might startle some. To make room for Oshie, the Blues will sit Vladimir Tarasenko. It is the first healthy scratch for the rookie, who was all the rage at the beginning of the season. Tarasenko had two goals on opening night and had five goals and 10 points in the first eight games.
Since then, he has three goals and six assists in 30 games. Tarasenko missed time in between with a concussion. His performance against Los Angeles was a dramatic mixed bag. He was minus-2 with no points in the Blues' 4-1 loss to the Kings on Feb. 11. Then he had both of his team's goals in a 4-2 loss on March 28.
"I think in reality, this has been a very difficult season for [Tarasenko]," Hitchcock said. "Not from the competition side of things, but from an intensity, games played, no practice, no rest ... I think he's found this season at times overwhelming just based on the proximity of games, 48 games in 100 days.
"He's found this to be challenging to say the least. He's played his best hockey when he's been rested. So we expect him to come into the series and be a rested player. But he's a really good hockey player who's had his eyes opened. This has been a strange season. I think if this was an 82-game season, he would be energy-wise a little bit different. But this has been a very difficult season for him because he has never been through anything like this in his life."Bouw doesn't know playoffs
Speaking of never being through something, 29-year old Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester has played in 635 consecutive regular-season games, the most among NHL players.
But Bouwmeester will be competing in his first playoff game tonight.
"Everyone knows the atmosphere and everything that goes with these games," said Bouwmeester, who was acquired from Calgary in a trade-deadline deal. "It's something you look forward to. But I think once you get into the game, it all goes away and you just play hockey."Kings have owned Blues
The Kings are 10-1 against the Blues in the last 11 meetings, which includes last year's four-game sweep in the playoffs. But Kings forward Dustin Brown puts no stock in it.
"They're a different team than last year and we're a different team," Brown said. "Other than knowing the way they play and their personnel, we can pretty much throw everything out the window. Our team has changed, their team has changed, it's a whole new season.
"I mean, we can draw on the experience of last year but ... We've had their number, but you know what, it's a whole new level in the playoffs. We haven't played them yet in this season."New guys
The Kings have not seen St. Louis since the Blues added both Bouwmeester and defenceman Jordan Leopold in trades. Kings coach Darryl Sutter knows both players well.
"Obviously, Bouwmeester brings a level of 'settle everything down' and he plays a lot of minutes," Sutter said. "He plays with No. 27 [Alex Pietrangelo] and they play in a lot of situations, play a lot of minutes."Lineup combinations
During the morning skate, it appeared defenceman Keeton Ellerby was in the lineup and defenceman Matt Greene was out. Greene missed the season finale with an undisclosed injury.
When asked about his lineup, Sutter would not confirm. "We'll have an extra forward and an extra defenceman tonight," he said.
That said, these appears to be the lineups:Blues
Jaden Schwartz-David Backes-Alexander Steen
David Perron-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Stewart
Adam Cracknell-Chris Porter-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Jordan Leopold-Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman-Roman Polak
Dustin Brown-Mike Richards-Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford-Anze Kopitar-Jeff Carter
Dwight King-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner-Brad Richardson-Jordan Nolan
Robyn Regehr-Drew Doughty
Jeff Muzzin-Keaton Ellerby
Slava Voynov-Rob Scuderi
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