By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Tyson Strachan understands his role with the Blues. That doesn't mean the defenseman can sit back idly and be pleased about it.
As the extra defenseman in a six-man rotation, or the odd-man out as the team's seventh defenseman, Strachan has played in one game this season (in Dallas) and under five minutes of game time.
But with the injury to Roman Polak (right wrist laceration), who will not accompany the team to Nashville to play the Predators Thursday, Strachan will step into the lineup -- at least for one game, or as long as Polak sits.
"That's what we've been here for. Just working hard every day waiting for that opportunity," Strachan said after practice Tuesday at the St. Louis Mills Ice Zone. "You hate to see a guy like Roman have an injury like that. It's definitely a scary thing. ... I was sick to my stomach watching him go off, but it's good to get in and try and help out the team.
"It's tough sitting there watching from the stands when you can't help out. I'm just excited to get in there and get some minutes."
The Blues, who have had their fair share of injuries -- particularly to the defensive unit, have managed to add the necessary depth to the blue line in case of these sudden injuries.
Polak has not been ruled out of Saturday's home game against Atlanta, but Strachan is more than capable of stepping in and the team filling the gap.
"That's why depth is so important," Blues coach Davis Payne. "You can't just have a body, you have to have a body that is in tune with what we're doing and certainly capable of carrying forward what we're doing."
Payne likes what Strachan offers.
"Good poise, good size, a real good head, thinks the next play ahead defensively, thinks the next play, makes a good first pass, is able to take a step up ice and help us in transition, help us create that initial thrust coming from our own end," he says. "He's actually pretty good on the offensive blue line as far as getting his shot through, handling pucks, creating his own shot lane, and he's got a physical element. He's a big body who's willing to get in there and get his nose dirty. He kind of gives us a little bit of everything."
At Tuesday's practice, Strachan was on the ice with Carlo Colaiacovo, while Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson were paired together. Barret Jackman and Alex Pietrangelo remained together.
* Janssen practices -- Blues enforcer Cam Janssen was on the ice for his first practice with the team Tuesday, although Janssen took part in the skating drills in place Monday.
Janssen, out since the season opener after sustaining a concussion in that game, appears doubtful to play in Nashville. But the Eureka, Mo. native says he's ready to get back into the swing of things.
"Things feel great. I feel right back in it," Janssen said. "I feel like I'm part of the team again. It's the best feeling in the world. Injuries are bad for a couple different reasons. One, you're injured. Two, you're just not part of the group. It's just mentally straining. I wasn't even out for that long and I'm always in the room talking with the other guys. That makes me feel a lot better, but you still have that separation from the guys. It's mentally draining. It really is. Now that I'm back and practicing and hanging, it just makes everything that much better. Whenever they need me, I'll be ready."
Payne says he would consult with Blues trainer Ray Barile before making a final decision.
"It was a matter of him getting through today," Payne said of Janssen's practice. "... We'll assess how Cam felt going through and what kind of options that gives us Thursday."
If it's up to Janssen, who says you can only do so much stick-handling in the basement of your home, he's fit and cleared to go.
"I'm 100 percent ... 110 percent," Janssen said. "I've got to calm down a little bit because my energy's a little too much.
"It'll happen. They know that. They know I'm a high-energy guy and sometimes you've got to take a few deep breaths before I go on the ice. And I will, and boy, I'll be ready when they need me."
* Chase moves on -- Blues radio color analyst Kelly chase and partner Kyoko Ina are in the Final Four.
Chase and Ina are one of the final four skaters in Canada’s “Battle of the Blades” figure skating competition.
The final four include Chase, former Blue Valeri Bure, Todd Warriner and Theo Fleury.
Fans can vote for Chase and 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 fifth round will take place 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.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
(10-27-10) BLUES NOTEBOOK
By LOUIE KORAC