The St. Louis Blues aren’t trending in the right direction as the playoffs loom, and David Backes is the latest victim of this mild spiral downward. He took a shot off the ankle against the Washington Capitals on April 8, and was spotted in a walking boot after the contest.
He won’t play tonight against the Minnesota Wild, and it’s being reported that he could miss upwards of three contests with the injury.
— Norm Sanders (@NormSanders) April 10, 2014
With Backes on the mend, Ken Hitchcock has moved Vladimir Sobotka to the vacant first-line center role. Hitchcock spoke to Chris Pinkert of the Official Blues website, and he had this to say about the new-look top line:
It’s got speed, tenacity. I’m really excited to see how this looks. It might be something potentially, if it looked really good, that we could potentially move into the playoffs and use it as a line. I want to see how it looks tonight. It would be unbelievable if we could do it. It would give us the positional depth without (Vladimir) Tarasenko that we’re looking for. But it has to be a productive line, a threat.
The loss of Backes isn’t a positive thing on paper, but it certainly could turn out to be something good if this new No. 1 trio clicks to some degree. That would open up several intriguing options for Hitchcock just in time for the playoffs. For instance, do the Blues become a more dangerous team if Backes is utilized on a second line with, say, Jaden Schwartz or Vladimir Taresenko (once he’s able to return)?
St. Louis seems to have a lot to gain in this experiment, so long as Backes is able to rest up and return in time for the first round of the postseason. Missing him for any amount of time during the playoffs would be terrible, but maybe hitting the home stretch in search of different line combinations isn’t such a bad thing.