With a playoff berth in their grasp but not solidified, the Blues still need points in their four remaining regular-season games. But with the postseason looming at the end of the month and Ken Hitchcock showing signs of wariness, the Blues’ coach made his own point after the team’s 2-1 victory Friday over Dallas. “I think it would be really smart if we brought some new energy into the team in Colorado,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve got fresh legs and hungry guys and I think it would be really smart if we brought some of those guys in the lineup and got them playing. We’ve got a week to keep winning hockey games and find a way to re-energize ourselves, especially up front.” Although the Blues are getting close to clinching a playoff spot, expect a couple of new faces on the ice. The logical candidates are forward Dmitrij Jaskin and defenseman Kris Russell. Jaskin, 20, has played only one game with the Blues since arriving this month from junior hockey. After waiting four games to make his NHL debut, he had 61/2 minutes of ice time in a 2-1 win over Vancouver last Tuesday. “It wasn’t that bad,” Jaskin said. “I felt good. It’s a different league. I was tired, but I felt good. It’ll be better and better. I am happy for nine shifts, or whatever I had. I’m happy for this chance.” The 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward has taken a back seat in the last two outings, but it had nothing to do with his debut performance. “I really like Jaskin a lot,” Hitchcock said. “He’s going to be a good player for us for a number of years.” But after playing their 11th game in 19 days Friday, the Blues think they can benefit from subbing in the 20-year-old and giving one of their forwards a breather. “The last two days our forwards have looked really tired,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve had no spacing, no real jump to get open. We’ve got people in the third period taking 15-second shifts. I think we’ve run the well dry. The guys have done a really good job, but some guys are going to need a rest. “We’ve got to find a way to create more, win more battles in the offensive zone. When you see a guy like (Jaden) Schwartz being able to do it — he’s been tremendous the last two games — we need more of them like that.” It’ll be interesting to see which player Hitchcock removes from the lineup. When he inserted Jaskin recently, fourth-line forward Adam Cracknell was scratched. But the Blues’ fourth line turned in another solid game Friday, with Ryan Reaves scoring on a setup from Chris Porter. All three played more than nine minutes.
Hitchcock seeks players to re-engergize team
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Apr 21