Sobotka shoulder 100 percent; weekend
games featured for cancer awareness
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Vladimir Sobotka was all smiles Wednesday. And not because he is back to gaining a regular role in the Blues' lineup. He finally got hit.
He was able to thank teammate Barret Jackman for the honors.
Sobotka, who was cleared by Dr. Peter Asnis in Boston to play last week and deemed to be 100 percent healthy, made his Blues debut during Monday's 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago.
Sobotka, who had surgery on his left shoulder in the off-season, did deliver two hits according the official stat sheet but was not hit himself.
Sobotka was not hit in the game by a Blackhawks player and that first hit following an injury usually is an indicator if the shoulder can fully absorb the grind of the game.
Jackman took care of that during the Blues' practice at St. Louis Mills, delivering a hit to the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Sobotka during a team drill.
There were certainly no repercussions, and Sobotka was all smiles afterwards.
"I told him that's exactly what I needed," Sobotka said of Jackman. "It was a good battle. It's practice and that's what I needed. Hopefully, it helps me bring more energy and some big hits of my own, maybe some goals."
Sobotka garnered 7 minutes 14 seconds of ice time in his debut, which doesn't sound like much, but the Blues are going to bring him along as slowly as they can while Sobotka gets back to game speed.
"I was expecting for (the team) to get me in slowly, get a slow start," Sobotka said. "I need to take a few games and get back, get hit and hit somebody. I think it was a good start."
Sobotka did visit Asnis, who along with Dr. Thomas Holovacs performed the procedure on Sobotka's shoulder on May 25.
"He said I healed completely and I'm strong," Sobotka said of Asnis. "Just go out there and play my game."
* Line tinkering -- Even though the Blues don't play again until Friday, coach Davis Payne made a few alterations to the Blues' forward lines on Wednesday.
Matt D'Agostini seemed to be the one to benefit.
Playing on the fourth line through five games, Payne moved D'Agostini up to a scoring line with Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund. Brad Boyes was on right wing on a line with Alex Steen and Jay McClement, while B.J. Crombeen took D'Agostini's spot on right wing with Brad Winchester and Sobotka.
"I must have done something to show that I can play with those guys," said D'Agostini, who leads the Blues with three goals. "Hopefully (I) get a couple of goals early, so I can show that I can play with them and stick with them. Hopefully, it's the start of something good."
D'Agostini, acquired from Montreal a season ago, found it amusing when asked about leading the Blues in goals.
"Yeah, I don't know how long that's going to last," he said.
* Blues to join in on hockey fights cancer -- The Blues are celebrating Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month and will host a pair of special nights Friday and Saturday.
Friday's game against Chicago will feature Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night and will be held in celebration of Mandi Schwartz, sister of 2010 Blues' first-round draft pick Jaden Schwartz. Mandi Schwartz received a bone marrow stem cell transplant in September.
On Saturday when the Blues host the Pittsburgh Penguins, it will be the fourth annual Pink at the Rink, which benefits the Susan G, Komen for the Cure St. Louis affiliate.
Fans can purchase tickets for Saturday's game through a special offer, with $5 from each ticket being donated to Komen for the Cure. Each ticket purchased includes a commemorative pink t-shirt and seating in the "pink-out" sections.
All fans in attendance are encouraged to wear pink. There will be several in-arena activities throughout the game.
* Chase advances in Battle of the Blades -- Blues radio color analyst Kelly Chase has advanced as one of the final five skaters in Canada’s "Battle of the Blades" figure skating competition.
The final five include Chase, former Blue Valeri Bure, Todd Warriner, Patrice Brisebois and Theo Fleury.
Fans can vote for Chase and his partner, Kyoko Ina, up to 25 times per person by going to www.cbc.ca/battle and clicking on the pair’s facebook page. The show’s fourth round will take place on Sunday and voting will begin at 6 p.m.
Chase is competing for a $100,000 purse that will be donated to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan in order to help build the first children’s hospital in the province.