Jori Lehtera is a scratch for Game 5 of the Blues-Wild series after suffering a lower body injury in Game 4.
Coach Ken Hitchcock said Friday morning it was "50-50" as to whether Lehtera would play in Friday night's Game 5 against Minnesota at Scottrade Center.
"He took the shot, everybody saw that," Hitchcock said. "We decided it's best for him to stay off ice. I'm thinking he's 50-50 to play, but we're leaning more toward playing him than not. We'll see how it goes."
Lehtera was hit by a shot from teammate Jay Bouwmeester in the third period of the Blues' 6-1 win over the Wild in Game 4 on Wednesday.
The incident happened with the Blues on the power play and leading by the five-goal margin. Lehtera hobbled to the bench in obvious pain, but remained in the game.
The second-line center finished with 13 minutes 8 seconds of ice time, as Hitchcock rested some of his top-nine forwards in the lopsided win.
With Lehtera not practicing, the Blues moved Paul Stastny into Lehtera's spot.
"We're familiar playing these lines together," Hitchcock said. " 'Stas' has played with these guys a lot so it's not a big dropoff. We're going to miss him on the power play, that's going to be a little bit of an adjustment. It's a big hole if he's not in. If we would have played yesterday, he wouldn't have played, but he's looking pretty good right now so we're assuming he'll play."
With Lehtera out, here's what the lines will look like:
Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin-Marcel Goc-Patrik Berglund
Chris Porter-Steve Ott-Ryan Reaves
Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Zbynek Michalek
WILD PROJECTED LINEUP
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Chris Stewart
Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Thomas Vanek-Charlie Coyle-Nino Niederreiter
Matt Cooke -Kyle Brodziak-Justin Fontaine
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon
Jordan Leopold-Matt Dumba
BLUES' BEST PLAYER?
Through four games in this series, the Blues have several individuals performing well.
Right winger Vladimir Tarasenko is tied with Nashville's Colin Wilson for the most goals thus far with five. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is tied with Anaheim's Corey Perry for the most points (seven) and leads in assists (seven). And goaltender Jake Allen is third in goals-against average (1.51) and seventh in save-percentage (.935).
But after Friday's morning skate, Hitchcock gave the distinction of the top overall performance to someone else. When asked about the play of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in the series, Hitchcock said: "He's been our best player ... been unbelievable. All the little things that you love in his game has been there since ... it started with four games left in the regular season, carried through the playoffs. He's been outstanding every game. The better he plays, the more risk he plays with and then he gets away with it. Like even some of the risky stuff he's done, he's flagged down pucks and got it back in. He's been outstanding for us."
Pietrangelo is a plus-3 through four games and has one assist. He is averaging 25 minutes, 19 seconds of ice time, which includes 1:48 on the power play and 2:01 on the penalty kill.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
There was one lineup move for the Blues before Game 4, inserting Chris Porter in the lineup and taking out Marcel Goc. Porter is a wing and Goc is a center, so to make that move, Hitchcock had to slide Steve Ott from the left wing on that line to center. Ott is a natural center, and Hitchcock thinks when he plays there, he's not the wild man he is when he's on the wing.
“When he plays center, he plays with more control,” Hitchcock said. “He plays a little bit like a wing nut on the wing. Can you say that? He plays like a wing nut on the wing. This way, when he has to play in control, he calms down and plays a positional game where you need it with some structure. He's very effective.”
Ott and Goc are the only forwards for the Blues who have gotten ice time who don't have a point yet for the Blues. Ott has 24 penalty minutes in the series, with two 10-minute misconducts. He's third in the NHL this postseason in penalty minutes.
ODDS AND ENDS
When series is tied 2-2, the Blues have lost Game 5 and, eventually the series, the past two times. Their last victory in that situation was 2001, when they beat San Jose.
Another place Lehtera's absence may be felt is on faceoffs. Lehtera has won 60 percent of his postseason faceoffs, fourth best in the league. The Blues won 53.4 percent of their faceoffs in the regular season, the second-best number in the league (Boston was at 53.6) and the best on record for the team.
Tarasenko has scored on 57.1 percent of his shots on goal (4 of 7). In the regular season, he was at 14 percent.
Minnesota has never won Game 5 of a series tied 2-2. Minnesota is 2-6 in Game 5s.
The team scoring first has won every game this series.
The Blues have had 12 minutes 18 seconds of power play time in the series. The Blues have scored on just one of their seven power plays.
Minnesota last lost consecutive games in regulation on Jan. 11 and 13, before they acquired goalie Devan Dubnyk.