I can see the reasoning for sitting out Tarasenko once Oshie comes back, but I have to believe that the Blues are going to want this guy to get some ice time in the playoffs (even if it's just 4th line minutes).
I'm sure they consider him to be a big part of their future. Seems likely they're going to want to get him all the playoff experience he can get, both so that they can see how he responds and so that he's a more productive player moving forward.
Besides, it's not like he hasn't earned the shot with his play this season, and he's been wonderful for his KHL teams in the playoffs.
I think the forwards and line combos will be a very fluid situation with every single able body healthy come Game 1.
I just think it's clear that Hitchcock trusts Tarasenko the least of our top 9 forwards so he's an automatic option to be sat.
So....are the playoff D pairings really going to be
Leopold has been pretty.....something. Given Russell's play last playoffs(I get it, he was pretty below average most of the season), but he's picked it up recently. Polak and Russell have solid chemistry, and 5 and 22 have played their best hockey this year while they were playing together.
Don't think that Tank will flourish on the 4th line. The style of play is so different that I don't think that he would be effective down their. The players down there know that they are 4th line players and know what their role is and how to play that role to the max.
Schwartz will start on the 4th since he can play that type of style, and the moment someone in the top 9 isn't playing well, he will take their spot.
I love Schwartz's intensity and level of play. I think that like Sobotka with their skill level and intensity that they should probably be at least 3rd line. I think for what a 4th line should do, coming out with energy, making some big hits, and knocking the other team off their game, that Cracknell, Porter, Reaves is probably better. Porter actually probably has the talent to play on higher lines. Reaves has more skill than anyone that we have had as a so-called "enforcer" in years. He can skate, checks effectively, has showed that he can score, and doesn't take stupid penalties. 4th line scoring is a bonus in the playoffs. Moving playmakers and scorers down to the 4th line won't make us a better team.
The Blues need to avoid trying the "defensive shell". They need to play with offensive energy, keep the puck in The Hawks' zone, and get a lot of chances. They need to score again, to keep a comfortable lead, and not let The Hawks into the game.