Nikitin skating, close to return; Colaiacovo questionable for Thursday
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Blues Defenseman Nikita Nikitin, who broke his right wrist in a preseason game on Oct. 1, was back on the ice for the first time at Saturday's morning skate and practiced in full gear on Monday at St. Louis Mills.
Blues coach Davis Payne said Monday that Nikitin, 24, has progressed very well since the injury and the Blues could certainly use an infusion after losing Roman Polak (wrist surgery) for an extended period.
"He's getting pretty close," Payne said of Nikitin. "He's obviously upped his level as far as what he's doing in practice and within each drill. He's going to get further assessment from doctors tomorrow and once we get that information, we'll be able to define what the next progression is for him."
Asked if he could be an option as a seventh defenseman here, the Blues' coach would not speculate anything just yet.
"From an injury standpoint, the docs have to get their hands on him," Payne said. "Enough time has passed, enough rehab has passed. But now, it's the next stage, which is for the docs to take a look at him."
An Omsk, Russia native, Nikitin was the Blues' fifth-round pick (136th overall) in 2004. He had one goal and one assist in three preseason games.
* Colaiacovo still questionable -- As for defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (headaches/neck spasms), who missed Saturday's win over Atlanta after a hard hit from Nashville's Jordin Tootoo late in Thursday's game against the Predators, it's possible he could return Thursday against San Jose, Payne said.
"It's possible. We're considering all options," Payne said. "Right now, we'll get through today where Carlo is and adjust accordingly or if necessary."
The Blues did send defenseman Nathan Oystrick back to Peoria on Sunday, leading one to believe Colaiacovo could make a return to the lineup Thursday.* Blues players to visit VA Medical Center -- Blues players T.J. Oshie, Cam Janssen and B.J. Crombeen will visit with the patients at the VA Medical Center at Jefferson Barracks today at 2 p.m.
The visit is a part of the Blues Salute to America’s Veterans and Armed Forces, presented by Boeing, planned for Thursday, November 11 when the Blues take on the Nashville Predators.
Fans are encouraged to bring care package items to the game for troops serving overseas, which will be collected by Operation Homefront volunteers at each entrance before the game. Community members can also honor the troops by purchasing a special military ticket package, in which the tickets will be donated to military personnel and their families.