If you take a look at the Blues’ lines for today, you’ll notice someone missing:
Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Alexander Steen - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Ivan Barbashev - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Sobotka
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson - Robert Bortuzzo
Yes, that would be Magnus Paajarvi, he of the series winning goal against the Minnesota Wild and a key cog on Vladimir Sobotka’s game tying goal last night. What gives?
"We like to give players a chance to respond and a chance to get back in there when they're coming out of the lineup," said Yeo. "We saw what that did for (Jori Lehtera). It's in no way anything against Magnus. We're very grateful and appreciative of what he's done and what he can do for us, but Barby has been a good player for us for a long time, too.
"Having him in the lineup, he'll be energized, bring a physical element… When he gets the puck of the offensive zone, he has a chance to create something. We'll see how he does tonight.”
This is a fair assessment of Barbashev, who deserves an opportunity to return to the lineup. Scratching Paajarvi, though - I mean, did being scratched really accomplish anything for Jori Lehtera? Did he magically grow rockets on his skates?
Would it be that terrible to go back to the lineup after the first game against the Wild?
Aside from Paajarvi sitting, nothing changes for the Blues except hopefully for their tenacity. The Blues from the third period - the team that scored two goals - should be present all three periods tonight. Whatever caused the team to go dead on their feet in the second period doesn’t need to happen again.
With improved play should come improved defense on P.K. Subban. Subban had a goal and two assists on Wednesday night. Looking slightly more vulnerable was Pekka Rinne. He was solid through two periods, but the two goals in under three minutes that the Blues scored on him in the third period reminded the Blues that the man is a human being. Sure, he shut the Blackhawks out in back to back games last series, but that was then. As Jake Allen learned, this is now.
Now’s the time to win one to send the series back to Music City knotted up at one apiece.