Oshie slides to second line, Stewart moves up to first as Hitchcock seeks more balanced scoring
By ANDY STRICKLANDÂ FS Midwest
MONTREAL -- In an attempt to get more offensive zone play from his team, St. Louis
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is shuffling his lines.
Hitchcock says he is hoping a more balanced approach to his line combinations is the answer. Toward that end, he is disrupting his first line of David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen, his most productive trio this season, at least for a few games. On Tuesday night in Montreal, Chris Stewart will play with Backes and Steen, while Oshie slides down to play with Vladimir Sobotka and Derek Roy.
With one line doing most of the damage this season, Hitchcock would like to see the scoring spread out more. He says the Blues have gotten away from some of the small details like stopping on pucks, and he wants to increase offensive zone time, saying too much of the scoring is being generated off the rush.
There was some hope injured forward Brenden Morrow would meet the Blues in Montreal, but that won't happen. The Blues placed him on injured reserve Monday.
Hitchcock has ruled out Morrow for Thursday's game vs. Calgary as well. The veteran winger has missed the Blues' last two games and hasn't skated since suffering an upper-body injury Oct. 29.
Magnus Paajarvi, also out with an upper-body injury, is skating and appears closer to a return. He will miss at least two more games.
Look for Adam Cracknell to return to the lineup in Montreal.
Jaroslav Halak will make his second start in Montreal since the Canadiens traded him to the Blues in June 2010. Brian Elliott will start Thursday against Reto Berra and the Flames. Berra, a former fourth-round draft pick of the Blues, won his first career start in Chicago on Sunday.
With a busy schedule ahead, look for Elliott to see more action in the coming weeks.