Sobotka receives doctor clearance to resume playing;
Saturday game time changed because of baseball
By LOUIE KORAC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vladimir Sobotka has received a green light.
The Blues' center, acquired in the off-season from Boston, has been out of action since left shoulder surgery this past summer.
A visit to the Boston-area doctor that performed the surgery revealed Sobotka can resume playing and he was cleared for full contact. It will now be up to Sobotka, 23, and coach Davis Payne when the Trebic, Czech Republic native will make his Blues debut.
"He'll return to the team, and then we can evaluate him under game conditions with our staff," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "We just have to get comfortable that he's in game shape and that he's 100 percent healthy.
"Davis will set up some drills specifically for (Sobotka) where he can test his shoulder, and then it will just be a conditioning thing and make sure that he's prepared for the rigors of an NHL game."
Is Saturday out of the realm of possibility?
"I haven't seen him ... we can't put the cart in front of the horse," Armstrong said.
Sobotka is supposed to join the team here in Nashville in time to travel to Dallas today.
* Power play tweak -- The Blues altered their power play for Thursday night's game, trying to tweak a unit that had gotten off to a slow start through two games.
The Blues went into the game Thursday 2-for-18 on the power play -- with wins over Philadelphia and Anaheim -- and were looking for a change to get more pucks to the net despite getting a number of quality chances.
Erik Johnson was moved back to the right point after experimenting with the left point, among the few minor changes.
"We just shifted some of the d-men around and shifted some guys in certain positions," Payne said. "A lot of it's based on the options we get, the hand of the shooter. We feel switching the lefties and the righties gives us a little better opportunity to use both sides of the ice and play not only ahead of PK pressure but back through a little bit easier."
T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund scored power play goals and the Blues were 2-for-5 in the 4-3 loss to the Predators.
* Time change for Saturday -- The game Saturday night in Dallas, originally scheduled for a 7 p.m. faceoff, has been moved back to a 7:30 p.m. drop of the puck.
The Stars did not want the game to coincide with Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, which begins at 3:07 p.m.
* Nashville coach praises Central Division -- Nashville coach Barry Trotz was quick and to the point with his words Thursday morning when talking about the competition in the Central Division.
Trotz, a veteran of 12 seasons coaching the Predators, says it's going to be a bear for all teams involved.
"Detroit's always really good, Chicago's still got their core; they're a good hockey team," Trotz said. "St. Louis, I'm impressed with the way they've matured. ... It looks like Columbus has taken a jump up. (Steve) Mason looks like he's back in form. We're a pretty decent hockey team. It's going to be a battle right through the Central Division. It might be the toughest, deepest division in hockey."
Trotz also talked about the talented, deep and young goaltending in the Central Division, with Jaroslav Halak with the Blues, Pekka Rinne in Nashville, Jimmy Howard in Detroit and Mason in Columbus. Chicago did have Antti Niemi until they could not afford to keep him.
"There's some good goaltenders in our division, some good, young goaltenders," Trotz said. "I just think there's some good, young talent in total in the division, but the goaltenders are getting better and better every year. They're getting bigger, too."