By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- So, now that the fate of T.J. Oshie has been determined for the time being, who steps in and fills that void?
Truthfully, nobody can fill the void left by Oshie, who is sidelined for a minimum of three months after suffering a fractured left ankle during Wednesday's 8-1 loss at Columbus. Oshie provides what not many NHL players can provide. So for the Blues and coach Davis Payne, it's trying to find a collective group to pitch in.
"I think it comes from a lot of guys," Payne said. "I think it comes from Brad Boyes, it comes from Matt D'Agostini, it comes from David Backes, whose been doing a lot of good things. ... It's (Vladimir) Sobotka stepping up in a penalty killing roll, it's any number of guys like B.J. Crombeen stepping up in defensive situations.
"I think there's not necessarily one guy. I think it will be situational and each guy is going to have to step up and fill in a little bit of that. T.J. plays good minutes, he plays important minutes and effective minutes for us. Our team game's got to get stronger."
Surgery was performed by Dr. Matt Matava at Barnes-Jewish Hospital Thursday afternoon.
Besides the guys on the team, the early auditions from Peoria are coming from Nick Drazenovic and Chris Porter, who will do their best to help fill the void from the Blues' leading scorer.
"Its an opportunity for me and Chris to step in and hold the line up and try our best out there," Drazenovic said. "We're second in the conference right now so that's huge footsteps to jump into."
Payne said it will not come from one guy, and that all the pieces Oshie leaves behind are irreplaceable.
"I've always felt that if a guy plays the way Osh does ... tenacity, work ethic, just a relentless pursuit in all the plays," Payne said. "He should have left an imprint in our game as to what is required. It's up to the next guy to take that forward and not replace but repeat.
"Injuries are going to happen. Guys are going to be in and out of the lineup and it's what you do in those moments. It's not necessarily how well you play or how many games you win when you are at full strength and full-rested. It's what you do the rest of the time that's real important over 82 games."
* Back to conventional lines -- After experimenting with the 7-11 novelty, Payne opted to go back to the more conventional 12 forwards, six defenseman system for Thursday's game against Nashville.
"It was a little bit of a plan in place based the schedule, based on the minutes that these guys are having to play," Payne said. "We want to be able to maintain our energy up front, perhaps a more offensive thrust."
With both Drazenovic and Porter in the lineup Thursday, one d-man was the odd-man out and it happened to be Ian Cole.
* Just one of those games -- The Blues' 9-1-2 start had a buzz not only in St. Louis but around the hockey nation.
So when the team fell off the wagon in Wednesday's thorough beatdown in Columbus, the question will now be how well does this team bounce back.
Playing 24 hours later certainly helps the cause.
"I think it's good to get right back to work," Payne said Thursday morning. "I think whether that's game or practice, we knew we were coming into today to make sure we're a better hockey club, and that was our approach. It's good therapy that you get right into game situations, but we're not going to spend too much time on the games we've won and we're not going to spend too much time on the games we've lost. We've got to deal with today and that's our intention."
As for the game Wednesday?
"We got off-track," Payne said. "We stopped doing things that made us successful. We stopped making quick outlet plays, we stopped making our first play, we stopped getting to the right areas on the ice, we stopped getting pressure to the opponent's net. As a result, (Columbus) started getting better and better as the game was going. It became a downhill game for them and an uphill game for us. Some of it based on their effectiveness, some of it based on our decisions with the puck."
* Colaiacovo close -- Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo skated Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion Oct. 28 in Nashville against the Predators after taking a hard shoulder hit from Nashville's Jordin Tootoo.
Colaiacovo, who missed his sixth consecutive game Thursday, is targeting Monday's game at Colorado as a likely return date.
"I’ve been symptom free since Saturday so its been a little bit of a longer process but at the end of the day, it's the steps you have to take to make sure you are doing it the right way," said Colaiacovo, who also suffered a more severe concussion in 2006 while playing for Toronto. "I've been through this before but obviously a lot worse so I kind of use my time there and my knowledge to know what I can and can't do and help myself heal quicker.
"I guess it’s the protocol you have to take now with how serious it is in the game. Obviously Perry (David Perron) is going through something like this as well now and you just don't want to mess around when you are dealing with head injuries because you have the rest of your life to live to, but my main concern is coming back and playing hockey for this team. That's one thing I sure miss, being a hockey player. There's no better feeling then coming back and being a part of this team, especially with how exciting its been this first little bit."
Colaiacovo looked good and fluent in drills Thursday but said the wind is still catching up to him.
"I think I need a couple more skates in," Colaiacovo said. "My legs just weren't with me today. My lungs were a little empty but it shows when you take two weeks off and do absolutely nothing. If everything goes well, maybe Monday could be a possible (return) day. We'll just take it a day at a time right now and if this team continues to play the way it is, I'll just be cheering them on and helping guys out and waiting for my chance to come back.
"I felt great out there, I really did. It was just such a nice feeling to put my skates on and be a part of a meeting and be a part of a practice with the guys. Its been a tough go for me lately just sitting at home and not doing much and watching the time pass by and watching our guys play some good hockey up until last night."