The next two nights are going to be tough. Detroit forgot how to lose at home and the Penguins have been on a tear as of late. These are two legitimate teams playing some great hockey. The Blues are going to have to play their butts off to win both of these games.....and here's how they're going to do it.
Jeremy Rutherford reported via Twitter this morning that the lines for the Blues today at the morning skate were 57-42-74 (no surprise here), 17-21-36 (big time surprise here), 15-44-25, and 32-12-26. Rutherford reported speed was important for Hitchcock tonight. Moving Sobotka up to the 2nd line and Stewart down to the 3rd line is a big move. Sobotka has impressed all year long (when healthy). He flies around, knocks down anything that gets in his way, and makes some filthy passes. I'm hoping he picks up a couple helpers tonight. D'Ags is due, and Berglund needs a jumpstart. Sobotka could be the guy to make that happen.
Stewart being "demoted" to the 3rd line tonight could be great for his confidence. Langenbrunner and Arnott are the steadiest two guys the Blues have. They play smart, they play tough, and they continuously shut down every line the opponent throws at them. Putting Stewart on that line with them will test his guts. It will force him to be the guy they're looking for to move up the ice and make plays. Langs has great vision and Arnott just flat makes people better. Stewart has a great opportunity to take it to the Wings' 1st and 2nd liners tonight. He can bully them a little bit, get that much-needed confidence, and come out with a great game.
The one I'm really intrigued with is putting Porter back out there. He seems to find himself in front of the net a lot when he gets the chance. Reaves might have some sore hands after beating the snot out of Joe Finley the other night. He'll get the night out and I'm hoping Porter can give him a couple nights off because of good play. Porter can be a difference maker tonight. He can rattle the Wings. He's small but feisty. He can bother them, get them off their game, pick their pockets. I like seeing him against the Wings for sure.
The Red Wings don't respect the Blues. Babcock talked trash about the lack of rivalry when they play the Blues. This year they've split with the home team winning every game. The Wings haven't lost at home in 16 games. The Blues refuse to give up any goals lately. The uncelebrated Blues versus the league-protected Red Wings. Something's gotta give tonight. I don't think we'll see a lot of goals. What we will see is the Wings struggling to get out of their zone all night. They'll get loose a few times and probably look like the better team when it's all said and done, but the scoreboard could have the Blues on top and ruining an "historic" run at being perfect at home for the Red Wings. Sobotka, Stewart and Porter are going to have to play their best games tonight. You know the Backes Bunch will show up.....hopefully everyone else will too.