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Blues want Stewart to become 'difference-maker'

Blues want Stewart to become 'difference-maker'

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When the Blues faced the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday, Chris Stewart briefly traded places with T. J. Oshie as the coaching staff tried to spread the wealth.

Their top threesome of David Backes centering Alexander Steen and Oshie had accounted for 43 points coming into the game. Then Steen got his 13th goal from Backes to open the scoring at Montreal.

Stewart was noticeable playing with Backes and Steen, but he became even more noticeable when coach Ken Hitchcock moved him again, putting him with Vladimir Sobotka and Derek Roy. Stewart scored his first goal of the season — the second Blues goal of a 3-2 shootout win — as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and Sobotka assisted.

Hitchcock explained the musical chairs:

“We're not disappointed in his game at all, we're trying to get (Stewart) to the next level where he's an impact player every night and he doesn't fall into the woodwork of the game,” Hitchcock said. “We want him to become a difference-maker.”

“We put him with Backes' line, he was good. When we put it back with Sobotka, he was really good, and that's what we need. He can make a difference rather than just kind of meld into the game.

“That's what we're trying to do is get people who we think are difference-makers to play to that ability rather than just be kind of good players in the game.”

Thus, as the Blues prepared for Calgary tonight at Scottrade Center, Stewart was back with Sobotka and Roy, while Oshie was back with Backes and Steen.

And there was peace and harmony in the Land of Pucks.

“I'm not worried about the goals,” Stewart said. “Over the last five games, I'm getting the most chances probably that I've had in my career. So any time you're getting the chances, you just have to stick with it and, as you saw the last game, you eventually you're going to get a bounce.”

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Stewart added that the Blues are looking forward to playing the next five at home.

“We definitely love playing in this building, the fans support us and the energy in the building is always great,” Stewart said. “So, any time you can get home for a good amount of time, you definitely want to use it to your advantage.”

Worth Note-ing for tonight:

  • Steen has a career best eight-game points streak.
  • Shattenkirk has a career best six-game assists streak.
  • Backes had nine hits in the Montreal game, the most by a Blues player since Ryan Reaves registered 10 hits March 19, 2011 against San Jose.
  • The Blues hope to improve to 6-1 in their first eight home games, which would match their start in 2011-12, when they set a club record with a 30-6-5 home record.
  • The Blues have won four of their last five with the Flames, including three in a row at Scottrade. In those three at the Scotty, the Blues outscored Calgary 11-3 and won 58.6 percent of the faceoffs.
  • Reaves had two goals and a fight the last time these teams met, otherwise known as a “Sudsy.” The Blues are 11-4-0 when Reaves gets a point, 26-8-3 when he has at least five penalty minutes.

TONIGHT'S PROJECTED BLUES LINEUP

Forwards

Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie

Derek Roy-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Stewart

Vladimir Tarasenko-Patrik Berglund-Jaden Schwartz

Adam Cracknell-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk

Jordan Leopold-Roman Polak

Goalie

Brian Elliott

PROJECTED FLAMES' LINEUP

Forwards

Michael Cammalleri-Joe Colborne- T. J. Galiardi

Lance Burma-Matt Stajan-David Jones

Jiri Hudler-Sean Monahan-Tim Jackman

Max Reinhart-Mikael Backlund-Brian McGrattan

Defensemen

Chris Butler- T.J. Brodie

Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman

Chad Billins-Shane O'Brien

Goalie

Reto Berra

Dan O'Neill is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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