The St. Louis Blues will open their series Thursday night at home against the defending champs -- a second straight postseason they've had that distinction -- but won't be doing so with their full lineup.
There was some growing hope that T.J. Oshie would be available to play against the Blackhawks when the series opens Thursday night but after the morning skate, he was ruled out for Game 1, as was Patrik Berglund.
Oshie has been out of the lineup for a week after taking a hit to the head from the Wild's Mike Rupp in Minnesota. The Blues only called it an upper-body injury but it was pretty clear that he was dealing with concussion symptoms and the timeline for a return is never certain, which left open hope for Game 1.
He joined the team for their skate but stuck around for some extra work after the majority of the team left, a sure sign he's out. Then coach Ken Hitchcock confirmed it.
Hitchcock says Oshie and Berglund are out tonight. He is hoping that Ott on the top line will allow Backes and Steen to be more offensive.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) April 17, 2014
Ott is no Oshie. This season Oshie had 21 goals and 39 assists to help lead the Blues offensive attack while playing the tough minutes with Steen and Backes. His loss is a big one, especially against a skilled and possession-heavy team like the Blackhawks.
Not to be swept under the rug here is the loss of Berglund with his upper-body injury as well. He had 14 goals and 18 assists, meaning the Blues just lost two guys who combined for close to 100 points this season. That's not how you want to start a series.