With the expected return of forward T.J. Oshie for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues’ coaching staff will have some decisions to make on the lineup card in preparation for the Los Angeles Kings. The various scenarios and playing schemes will come into play for the type of game that the Blues surely want to bring to the ice against a big, physical Los Angeles team.
It is sad to think that one of the fourth line players in the Blues lineup would be the first candidate to open up a spot for Oshie, but that is the most likely target in retrospect. The fourth line has been at its best during the past couple of weeks going down the stretch run, and it would be a shame to see the line of Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter, and Ryan Reaves be split up. It simply doesn’t seem possible that the coaches would take any other player out of the forward lineup besides somebody on the fourth line. With the exclusion Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, all of the forwards on the top three lines have played in the playoffs before. They know the tough environment that looms ahead of them and can help to work out the jitters and uneasiness from the rookies and inexperienced players surrounding them. It seems this is another situation in which the fourth line may rotate players in and out of the lineup, depending on the circumstances and situations that may come up during the playoffs.
Along with the return of T.J. Oshie, it looks as if Barret Jackman will make his return to the Blues during the playoffs. This obviously means that Kris Russell will be taken out of the lineup. Russell has played very well in the few games that he has filled in for Jackman, and he would be the candidate to return to the lineup if there were any injury to a defenseman during the playoffs.
Let the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence!