(HockeyStL) -- The Blues are making at least one lineup change for Tuesday’s game against New Jersey, starting forward Magnus Paajarvi against the Devils.
Paajarvi had played in 19 consecutive games prior to Saturday’s matchup against the New York Islanders, in which Paajarvi was listed as a healthy scratch. Head coach Ken Hitchcock made the tough decision of scratching Paajarvi once the team found out that Alexander Steen would play. It was a move he now wishes he hadn’t had to make.
“He didn’t deserve to come out the last game,” said Hitchcock. “Somebody had to and it was my decision to make. Quite frankly, against the Islanders, I think we missed him.”
But the coach won’t be going against his better judgment again and says Paajarvi will be suiting up for Tuesday’s game.
“He’s going right back in (on Tuesday),” Hitchcock said.
Paajarvi has just two points (one goal, one assist) in January, but has upped his play noticeably of late. Earlier in the year Paajarvi was playing bottom-line minutes, but the Blues have utilized him in a more prominent role of late.
Paajarvi was practicing on a line with Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie on Monday at the St. Louis Mills, which is a strong indication as to where he will be slotted on Tuesday. Paajarvi and Berglund are both Swedish forwards, and have shown some chemistry in random line experiments this season.
“He deserves to play,” said Hitchcock. “He’s played really well. He had a great start, got hurt and had a tough time getting through the injury but he’s back to where he started here and he’s a very effective player.”
It took some time for the Swedish forward to prove himself to the team, as he came to St. Louis with high expectations this past offseason.
The Blues made a big deal this past summer to ship David Perron to Edmonton for Paajarvi and a second-round pick. Paajarvi isn’t the offensive producer that Perron was, but that doesn’t mean the Blues don’t view him as an asset.
“What we thought we were getting, we didn’t necessarily get,” said Hitchcock. “We found a different player and we are getting used to seeing how good he is.”
“People thought that maybe he was a third-line checker. I think he has more in his game, but we are going to have to bring him along and develop it.”
While Paajarvi returns on Tuesday, Hitchcock wouldn’t indicate who would come out of the lineup. Chris Stewart, who had just 5:32 of ice time in Saturday’s game, along with a minus-two rating, was the likely candidate. However, Hitchcock said following practice that he’s not prepared to sit Stewart yet.