By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Add forward Andy McDonald to the list of the hip-flexor bug.
Days after Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo suffered a hip-flexor injury Friday, McDonald also was hit by the same type of injury.
McDonald did not practice Wednesday with what he called a mild hip-flexor strain suffered during practice on Sunday.
The Blues did not practice Monday and McDonald was on the ice Tuesday when the team skated full bore for two-plus hours in an intense practice. The injury "flared up" according to McDonald. He said everything felt good before practice Tuesday.
McDonald, 33, said the injury is nothing serious and would test it out Thursday morning prior to the Blues' exhibition game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"It's more precautionary at this point," McDonald said. "Rest it today, see how it is tomorrow. It's not anything serious. ... I'm not too worried about it."
With McDonald out, the Blues had 26 skaters on the ice so the onus was on Alex Steen to double-shift during drills.
Here were some line combinations at practice Wednesday at St. Louis Mills:
Alex Steen-David Backes-David Perron
Steen-Patrik Berglund-Nicholas Drazenovic
T.J. Oshie-Jay McClement-B.J. Crombeen
Chris Porter-Dave Scatchard-Brad Boyes
Brad Winchester-Matt D'Agostini-Cam Janssen
Barret Jackman-Erik Johnson
Eric Brewer-Roman Polak
Ian Cole-Alex Pietrangelo
Nikita Nikitin/Nathan Oystrick-Tyson Strachan
* Nikitin making strong push -- Russian defenseman Nikita Nikitin, the Blues' fifth round draft choice (136th overall) in 2004, has been considered the longshot of a group fighting for two spots open on the defensive side.
But with the uncertainly of Colaiacovo's injury, which Payne says is day-to-day, and nobody really running away with the battle, the Omsk, Russia native is among the final 29 players and pushing it until the very end.
Nikitin has a goal and an assist in two preseason games.
"We think he's done a great job," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "He's competing. We felt that he's gained some of the conditioning that perhaps he didn't have stepping into camp here. We feel positionally, decision-making with the puck and decision-making defensively have been very impressive for a guy who's come over to North America."
* Stanley Cup champs to close out Blues' preseason schedule -- The Blues have three preseason games remaining, and two of them are against the defending Stanley Cup champ Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks (1-3) will play here today at 7 p.m. before hosting the Blues (3-2) Sunday at 5 p.m. at United Center. The Blues will also play host to Dallas Saturday at 7 p.m.