"(Jaroslav Halak's) not going to play obviously and he's not going to skate," Ken Hitchcock said. "He skated yesterday, so we'll just keep working him towards getting back here sometime. But right now, he's not available, so Brian (Elliott) is the guy."
That's what the St. Louis Blues' head coach told Jeremy Rutherford after practice on Wednesday in San Jose in preparation for tonight's Game 4 in the first round. Brian Elliott better be "the guy" because the Sharks are going to be in full-out desperation mode.
Consider these facts:
- The Sharks have lost two in a row. A third would mean going back to St. Louis with the Blues holding a commanding 3-1 lead.
- The Blues were tied with Detroit for most home points in the league with 65.
- The Sharks were 17-17-7 on the road during the regular season.
- Rutherford reports that Michal Handzus and Brad Winchester (I'm sorry, Brad Fucking Winchester) may dress and seeing playing time tonight. Talk about desperate...
- The top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski have combined for three points -- all three coming on March Playoff Beard Thornton's three assists in Game 3.
So here's where we are. The Blues are standing pat with the lineup. No demotions to the press box, no messages to receive or send other than the guys who were on the ice Monday get another crack tonight. The top line for San Jose is getting broken up. Antti Niemi is starting again because the Sharks have no other options. And all the pressure will be on Elliott.
I know the Blues have been able to control the flow of games and have been the better power play team. I would wager the offense will not be the unit to win this game. No, I'd wager this one will have the tightest checking yet in the series. It will likely be low scoring and real estate at a premium. The pressure will be on Elliott to withstand the barrage that is coming.
It will be interesting to see how Hitchcock plays David Backes And Friends. The No. 1 line has been the shutdown line. They'll probably still get Thornton. That means Marleau might have a little more room to skate with Martin Havlat and Ryan Clowe. We'll see if it works.
It's simple: Win and the Blues have a chance to start the handshake line in St. Louis Saturday night. Lose, and no matter what the series will return to San Jose next week for Game 6. Drama, we got.
This is your game day thread. Comment like you're not even tired.