After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead behind what were all close games, the St. Louis Blues finally succumbed to a loss Wednesday night in Game 4 at home. The Blues offense struggled, and Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped all 28 shots he faced. But the Blues have taken three of four games against the Wild all without their number one center Paul Stastny, who’s been out since taking a shot to the foot from fellow teammate Vladimir Tarasenko in a game against the Colorado Avalanche back on March 22nd.
Stastny was skating and practiced with the team back on Tuesday, and worked with the first power play unit, but did not play in Game 4. Stastny’s condition remains day-to-day but could possibly return to the lineup for Game 5 on Saturday in St. Paul. Pauly Walnuts would be a tremendous help to the Blues offense, who has struggled in the faceoff circle for the most part (42% of faceoffs won in series, won 49% of draws in Game 4) and also is averaging less than two goals per game in the series (1.75). The Blues are also yet to score more than two non-empty net goals in a game this series. Having Stastny and Tarasenko on the same line was working like a charm up until Stastny was injured, hopefully their connection will heat up once again. Here’s what the potential line pairings could be with Stastny back in the lineup:
The main man missing here is Ivan Barbashev. The rookie has been great for the Blues this season, but he is no Paul Stastny, not yet anyway. Unless head coach Mike Yeo felt strongly about having Barbie on the wing instead of Zach Sanford, I just don’t see there being a spot for him in the lineup for Game 5, assuming that Stastny is ready to go and in the lineup. But the hope is that if Stastny returns, the Blues offense will return to normalcy. Only time will tell and let’s hope the Blues can move on to the next round on Saturday, no matter who’s in the lineup.