LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Vladimir Tarasenko, drafted 16th overall by the St. Louis Blues, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Immediately following their loss in Game 3, Ken Hitchcock headed for the St. Louis dressing room. As he did so he passed Vladimir Tarasenko, a healthy scratch for the first three games of the series. Hitchcock made a quick statement which signals we'll be seeing Tarasenko in this series very soon:
"Get ready to play."
There are two potential scenarios here. There's either an injury to a forward that might force someone to miss a game (Jaden Schwartz looked a bit banged up in game 3) or Hitchcock wants to add in a bit more offensive skill into the lineup after a Game 3 loss where no one on the roster could hit an empty net. Regardless of the reason, Tarasenko will soon get his first taste of the playoffs.
That's a pretty tough question to answer. If there's an injury then the situation answers itself, but if there isn't you're left with a difficult decision. It seems doubtful Hitchcock would tamper with the highly successful Cracknell-Porter-Reaves line as that's been the team's best line all series long. It's possible one of them will sit, but in my mind that'd be a mistake as that combination has punished LA physically and generated some big chances in the offensive zone.
Feel free to speculate, but if I had to guess I'd pick Schwartz as the odd man out. Others have pointed to David Perron, but I feel he played a pretty strong game in Game 3, despite picking up some penalty minutes. We won't know who sits until we get a bit closer to Game 4, but feel free to place your opinions on who should sit in the comments below.