Saturday, December 11, 2010

(12-11-10) Hurricanes-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- One thing's for certain, T.J. Oshie had a high-energy content even while recovering from a lengthy and serious injury.

Oshie, who suffered a broken left ankle during the Blues' 8-1 loss in Columbus on Nov. 10, has been making more frequent visits to the rink in an effort to recover as soon as possible and get back on the ice.

The initial prognosis was that Oshie will be reevaluated in three months after having surgery the day after the injury. It's still too soon to tell when and if Oshie can return but the signs point to a healthy return.

"I'm doing great," Oshie said Saturday morning with a protective boot on and crutches in hand. "It's definitely great to be back around the rink and around the boys. I'm feeling good, everything's going really well.

"I'm pretty much on course. I haven't really heard of a timetable for anyone else, but as it was with my high ankle sprain my rookie year, it healed a lot quicker than most guys do. We're hoping to come back a little earlier but definitely not going to push it."

Oshie, who doesn't hide from the fact he has plenty of energy even at less than 100 percent, has definitely kept his teammates' spirits alive and well. A prankster by nature, he said that Patrik Berglund, among others, has been one of the victims to his practical jokes.

"I kept telling everyone it takes more than a broken leg to keep me down," Oshie said. "I try to be that energy guy around the locker room as much as I can. Obviously, I can't do it on the ice, I can't do it on the bench, but I'll do whatever I can to get the guys in a good mood and have fun. I think that's a big part of playing well is coming to the rink and having a good time while you're here."

Initially, Oshie was confined to his bed, which is something he wasn't accustomed to.

"I was bed-ridden there for a little while, but now I'm getting after it, getting some workouts in," said Oshie, who jokingly said he may become a body builder one day. "You get a ball, throw it up in the air all day. Video games are definitely a big part of it, screaming at little kids through X-Box Live, but it's fun."

But he also had plenty of time to reflect and dwell on the seriousness of the injury and what really happened.

"It actually took me a couple weeks," Oshie said. "I think hockey players or athletes in general think you get hurt and, 'Ah, don't worry. I'll be back. I'll be back.' I looked at the date and saw how many weeks it was and how many games I'd be missing. It's definitely tough to swallow. You work out all summer getting ready for a good, healthy, full season. Something like this sets you back."

Oshie, who also has broken his arm twice in high school and played through a broken thumb while at North Dakota, began rehabbing this past week and has continued to use ARP therapy, an electrical stimulation device designed to accelerate the healing process. He's also dealt with the high ankle sprain his rookie season along with Compartment syndrome in his right thigh.

Oshie said that he's allowed to put 25 percent of his weight on his ankle now and doctors are hoping he can add 25 percent each week.

"I can limp around," Oshie said. "... Hopefully, in a month, I'll be flying around but not too certain."

- - -

The Blues (14-9-4) will look for their third straight win and will try to improve on their 9-2-1 record here at Scottrade Center.

Head coach Davis Payne will stick with what works and will not make any lineup changes:

Vladimir Sobotka-David Backes-Brad Boyes

Brad Winchester-Patrik Berglund-B.J. Crombeen

Alex Steen-Jay McClement-Matt D'Agostini

Stefan Della Rovere-Dave Scatchard-Cam Janssen

The d-pairings will stick together as well:

Ian Cole-Eric Brewer

Barret Jackman-Alex Pietrangelo

Carlo Colaiacovo-Erik

That means Tyson Strachan will be the extra guy and sit out his fourth straight game and sixth of the last eight.

Jaroslav Halak, who is 2-0-1 in his last three starts and 1-2-0 with a 2.73 goals-against average with a .920 save percentage in his career against the Hurricanes, goes once again for the Blues.

- - -

The Hurricanes (11-12-4), who dropped a 2-1 shootout decision Friday night in Dallas, won the most recent visit between the two teams at Scottrade Center back during the 2008-09 season, winning 1-0.

The Blues won the recent meeting last season in Raleigh, N.C. by a 5-2 mark.

"A good, fast team. A good skating team," Payne said of the Hurricanes. "I watched their game in Dallas last night and when the puck changes possession, they're coming in a hurry and not just three guys, sometimes it's five guys. We have to have great return. We have to have great decision-making with the puck, making sure that some of their big bodies and the wide speed is important to defend. Then you've got guys like (Sergei) Samsonov and (Jeff) Skinner who will be more than happy to challenge you 1-on-1. We've got to be on our rush coverage and our return has to be strong tonight."

The Hurricanes did not skate Saturday morning, so here is the projected lineup:

Sergei Samsonov-Eric Staal-Tuomo Ruutu

Pat Dwyer-Jussi Jokinen-Chad LaRose

Brandon Sutter-Erik Cole-Jeff Skinner

Ryan Carter-Jiri Tlusty-Troy Bodie

On defense:

Tim Gleason-Joe Corvo

Joni Pitkanen-Ian White

Tim Harrison-Jamie McBain

Despite playing last night, Cam Ward, who is 3-1-0 with a 1.75 GAA and .930 save percentage for his career against the Blues, is expected to get the start again.

Prior to Friday night, Carolina had not played in six days and after tonight, will not play again until Wednesday night in Florida.

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