Blues seeking more balance on offense

News-DemocratApril 1, 2014 

— Ken Hitchcock has no problem with a top line generating the impressive level of numbers that T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen and David Backes have been producing.

The St. Louis Blues' top line had 11 of the team's last 13 goals over a four-game span heading into Thursday's game against Philadelphia Flyers. They also had racked up 18 points over the previous three games.

What Hitchcock would like to see is a little more production from everyone else, which helps explains the lineup changes he made against the Flyers.

"All of us feel as happy as we are for the one line, (but) you can't win with just one line doing that so we're trying to get more people included," Hitchcock said. "We know we're going to need it and we're doing probing and pushing to find it. We're not looking for combinations that work, it's too late for that.

"We're trying to get people to understand when they play really well how it looks and what it feels like."

As a result, Hitchcock moved Magnus Paajarvi from left wing to right wing, switched Steve Ott from right to left and plunked Patrik Berglund between them.

Other changes included putting veteran Brenden Morrow at left wing on a line with Vladimir Sobotka and Jaden Schwartz and moving veteran center Derek Roy to left wing on the fourth line.

One of the reason we're so high up in the standings as far as our offense goes is that we've got great seasons from a lot of people other than Backes, Oshie and Steen," Hitchcock said. "That's what's gives us our success."

Schwartz (23 goals) is one of five Blues with at least 20 goals and there are 11 players with at least 30 points. A key missing ingredient is Russian winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who had 21 goals and 43 points in 64 games before suffering a broken hand.

* Blues prospect Ty Rattie is the top scorer on the minor-league Chicago Wolves with 29 goals and 45 points in 66 games. Top goalie prospect Jake Allen is 29-16-2 for the Wolves with a 2.16 goals-against average and five shutouts.

* The Blues' 11 victories in March was their highest win total for the month in franchise history. They were 11-3-1, the same record they had in November.

* Steen's 33 goals are the most by a Blues player since Brad Boyes had 33 in 2008-09. Steen and T.J. Oshie are the first Blues teammates to reach 60 points since Boyes and Paul Kariya each had 65 back in 2007-08.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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