LOS ANGELES -- The Blues will make a lineup adjustment for Game 4
of their Western Conference semifinal series with the Kings on Monday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca
, 10 p.m. ET), inserting rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko
Tarasenko got off to a promising start this season, scoring two goals on opening night in St. Louis and scoring five goals in his first eight games. But he suffered a concussion from a hit in Colorado on Feb. 20 and he missed nearly a month. He finished with eight goals and 11 assists in 38 games.
"He's been a good player," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Until the injury, he's been a very good player. He came back a little bit tentative from the injury. But I think when you have a player that contributes like he does, who is as strong on the puck, as determined as he is and as big as he is, he's an asset we can use."
Hitchcock will take Adam Cracknell out of the lineup to make room for Tarasenko. Cracknell was one of the three stars introduced after Game 1
in St. Louis. He has been part of an effective fourth line in the series.
The change doesn't reflect Cracknell's play. It's more reflective of the Blues' situation as a whole. They have several forwards who are banged up, and having the offensively dangerous Tarasenko available gives them adjustment options. Tarasenko had two goals in the Blues' 4-2 loss to L.A. on March 28 in St. Louis.
"I'm very excited to play," said the Russian native, who does not speak a lot of English.
Hitchcock talked with Tarasenko after practice on Sunday to measure his level of preparedness.
"He saw the the level of intensity, he understands," Hitchcock said. "I had a talk with him yesterday. He's excited to play. I think he deserves to play based on his regular season. He can play left or right [wing] and he certainly gives us some options moving forward if the games get as close as they do."No contest
Hitchcock opened his post-practice remarks on Monday with an observation about his matchup with Kings coach Darryl Sutter, should push come to shove.
"I understand Mr. Sutter is thinking that it's going to be Montreal-Ottawa here," Hitchcock said, referring to the brawling between the Sens and Canadiens. "Him and I left on the bench ... I don't like my chances."Outdoor game official
The Kings and Anaheim Ducks will play a regular-season game at Dodger Stadium
on January 25, 2014, the NHL announced on Monday.
All well and good, but when are the Dodgers and Angeles going to play a regular-season game on the ice in Staples Center?Elliott steps up
One of the biggest differences between this series and the series these teams played last year is the performance of Blues netminder Brian Elliott.
In last year's Western Conference semifinals, Elliott allowed 13 goals on 89 Kings shots in a four-game meltdown. In this series, Elliott has yielded three goals on 79 shots in three games. He has a .962 save percentage.
It is a continuation of how Elliott played down the stretch of the regular season. He had consecutive shutouts on April 7, 9 and 11 and limited opponents to one goal or less in 10 of 13 starts after rejoining the Blues from a two-game conditioning assignment in Peoria of the American Hockey League. By the way, one of those starts was a shutout.
Before going down to Peoria, Elliott had a 3.65 goals-against average and .851 save percentage. At the other end, L.A.'s Jonathan Quick has been spectacular as well. Quick has allowed four goals on 97 shots, for a .959 save percentage.
"Goalies are huge in any series" Kings defenceman Drew Doughty said. "Elliott played great in the first two games, that's why they won two, and then Quickie was great
[Saturday] night. That's why we won."
So how do the Kings generate more offence against Elliott?
"He makes the first save pretty much every time," Doughty added. "I think the one area where he struggles is he lets some rebounds, and I think we haven't been doing a good enough job of pouncing on those rebounds and putting in the second effort."Projected Game 4 lineupsKingsForwards
Dustin Brown -- Anze Kopitar C Justin Williams
Dwight King -- Mike Richards -- Jeff Carter
Dustin Penner -- Jarret Stoll -- Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford -- Colin FraserDefence
Robyn Regehr -- Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin -- Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez -- Rob Scuderi
Jaden Schwartz -- David Backes -- Alex Steen
Vladimir Sobotka -- Andy McDonald -- Chris Stewart
David Perron -- Patrik Berglund -- T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Tarasenko -- Chris Porter -- Ryan ReevesDefence
Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo
Jordan Leopold -- Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman -- Roman PolakGoaltender
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