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Blues will put rookie Barbashev in center of top line

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Paul Stastny didn't skate on Tuesday, which likely means he won't play Wednesday when the Blues start their playoff series with the Minnesota Wild, but the arrival of Vladimir Sobotka is giving coach Mike Yeo a chance to get creative with his lines.

It looks as though the Blues will start with rookie Ivan Barbashev centering Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko on the top line. Magnus Paajarvi, Patrik Berglund and David Perron are reunited on the second line, which allows Yeo to use Sobotka on the left wing, Jori Lehtera at center and Alexander Steen at right wing on the third line. (The fourth line stays the same: Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Ryan Reaves.) 

"To be honest, I'm really excited," Barbashev said, "especially with those guys in the playoffs. It's awesome. I don't know, just really happy about it and I'm looking (forward) to the first playoff game."

Yeo has not hesitated to give the team's youngsters a chance.

"Yeah, he's been doing that since he was here and it's awesome to be honest," Barbashev said. "He gave us a chance and we're just trying to improve."

Steen had been, until recently, centering Schwartz and Tarasenko on the top line.

"You know me, I'm up for anything," Steen told the Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford. "It's a good line. I think throughout this series, you'll probably see some different looks. It depends on whether we're on the road or at home. We'll start getting into details on possible matchups and stuff, but I'm excited. Sobie looked good in his first game. Jori is an extremely smart centerman, very good on faceoffs, so hopefully we start with the puck more often than not and off we go."

With the Wild having the final change in Games 1 and 2, Yeo feels these lines allow the team to matchup well regardless of who the Wild put on the ice.

"That was part of the thought process there," he said. "We thought Magnus played real well with Bergie and Perron, that line was really effective for us and we feel that group with Lehtera and Sobotka now, they not only do they have the ability to be defensive and tough to play against, but obviously we need everybody contributing at different points. We can't have a situation where we have one line going out there and they're the only ones that can score and if they do, great, and if they don't, we're in trouble. That's the way playoffs go. You put your best team game out there, we go out there and we lay it on the line and every night a different guy has a chance to be the hero. We feel we're set up that way.

"When you go on the road, they're dictating the matchups, they have the last change. It's always a point of focus for us as a staff. Certainly the more depth you have, the more trust you have throughout your lineup, then you don't have to try to hide anybody. Matchups go more than one way for us. Sometimes it's personnel related, sometimes it's situation related, whether it's D zone, whether it's offensive zone."

In addition to Stastny, Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) and Nail Yakupov (dinged up) didn't skate. Zach Sanford and Dmitrij Jaskin look to be the healthy scratches. The Blues have no healthy spare defensemen at the moment.

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