D'Agostini Replaces Stewart in Game 2
Matt D'Agostini will be in the lineup tonight, taking the place of Chris Stewart as the Blues try to bring the series level against the Los Angeles Kings. The news, as reported by Lou Korac, doesn't come as much of a surprise given Stewart's rather uninspiring effort in Game 1. If you recall, coach Ken Hitchcock used a similar tactic in the first round against San Jose, benching Stewart in favor of D'Agostini in an effort to get a spark from that portion of the lineup. Chris Stewart isn't doing a very good job of fighting for a new contract with the St. Louis Blues. In fact, he isn't doing a very good job of increasing his value as a hockey player with an expiring contract. Stewart is not winning over the hearts of fans, or management, in the last year of his deal and is only costing himself money with each game he drifts through. Where is the Chris Stewart of 2010-11? Who is this guy that's out there skating in his uniform in 2011-12 and now in the playoffs? The difference is so drastic that the two versions of Stewart could very well be two different individuals. The 2010-11 Stewart was a lethal weapon, scoring regularly upon arriving in St. Louis. He played with heart and ferociousness that made many fans believe he was capable of scoring 30-40 goals in 2011-12. When 2011-12 arrived, Stewart stayed at home. Fans kept waiting and waiting for vintage Stewart to arrive, one that was capable of producing offense. We are now in the second round of the playoffs and Stewart continues to have his drive and desire questioned - an extremely troubling fact. In the playoffs there isn't room for players on the roster that aren't giving 100%. Regardless of whether or not the player's effort results in goals, at the very least each and every player should be giving a full 100% effort each and every night. With Stewart it's clear that at times he is not giving his all. He looks like a player that is glazed over, barely living in the moment and instead distracted by something within his own head. Matt D'Agostini lacks the size and strength Chris Stewart possesses but he at least is a player that regularly gives his all when he takes the ice. In order to topple the Kings the Blues will need a complete effort from each and every player in the lineup. Will this benching finally make things click for Chris Stewart? Who knows. At this point, fans have to be sour on Stewart as he continually looks like a player that lets the play dictate him rather than a player that is dictating the play. This is the Stanley Cup playoffs. Few things should inspire a hockey player more than a chance to play for the Cup. If Stewart can't bring his game to a new level in the playoffs and has to be benched as a result, is this really a guy the Blues should sign to a new deal over the summer? Probably not.