Supporting cast must fill scoring roles; Cole out with flu
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- No T.J. Oshie. No David Perron. And now, no Andy McDonald.
McDonald, who suffered a concussion Saturday in Edmonton, joins Perron on the sideline because of concussion-related issues.
McDonald, along with Oshie and Perron, are three of the top Blues' forwards on the sideline because of injury.
So the goal-starved Blues must dig even deeper in the well to find a semblance of goal-scoring.
So where does it come from?
"It puts added emphasis on a guy like (Vladimir) Sobotka stepping up and playing the wing with David (Backes) and Brad Boyes," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "It brings added emphasis to Jay McClement moving in between guys like (Alex) Steen and (Matt) D'Agostini who can produce. He has to play a role in that. Generally, he's been looked at in a situation as a checking forward, as a matchup guy, as a penalty-killing guy. He's got to give us contribution at both ends of the ice.
"Patrik Berglund, who's also got some offensive ability with some big guys like Brad Winchester and B.J. Crombeen. Those guys have to find a way to create some offense. I thought that line did a fine job in Vancouver creating some space and some zone time. They got some clean looks. Those guys have to play their part."
McClement is one who understands it's time for others, himself included, to step up.
"It's an opportunity for somebody else," he said. "There's lots of us who have more to give as well. We need that from everyone that's left in our lineup. Eventually, we're going to get some guys back. In the meantime, hopefully not lose somebody else."
* Cole out -- Defenseman Ian Cole, recalled by the Blues Friday from Peoria, was a noticeable absentee from practice on Tuesday.
The Blues sent Cole home because Payne said he has the flu.
But that didn't stop the Blues' coach from speaking favorably about Cole's two games in Canada.
"I thought he had two very good hockey games," Payne said. "I thought his physical play, his gap control, his ability to close and even read some of the rushes he defused early and as they were leaving the offensive zone was very, very good. He was much more poised, much more controlled and certainly much more assertive with his play than the last time he was here."
* Polak skating, stick-handling -- Blues defenseman Roman Polak, sidelined since severing a tendon in his right wrist on Oct. 23 against Pittsburgh, was on the ice prior to Tuesday's practice at St. Louis Mills.
Polak, who was inadvertently injured by the skate blade of the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, was stick-handling with the puck for the first time and continues to be on target for a possible return in early January.
"It was good to see him out there," McClement said of Polak. "It would be nice to have him back. All these guys are itching to get back."
* Blues TV ratings soaring -- Blues have enjoyed a 54-percent increase in viewership this season according to Nielsen Media Research, including a 3.5 household rating in St. Louis compared to a 2.3 rating at this juncture last year.
The Blues rank fourth in local market TV ratings among U.S.-based NHL teams, behind Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit.
"Once again, our fans show their dedication and support of our team with these remarkable ratings,” Blues CEO Mike McCarthy in a statement. "Sold out crowds night after night at Scottrade Center and viewership doubling from last year are true signs that our fans are dialed into this team."
* Blues players visit local hospitals -- Blues players visited children and families at area children’s hospitals to help spread some holiday cheer:
St. Louis Children’s Hospital, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, Ranken Jordan – A Pediatric Specialty Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children were among the places players visited on Tuesday.
Players visit children and their families while delivering gifts of Blues memorabilia.
Those who visited St. Louis Children’s Hospital included Brad Winchester, Vladimir Sobotka, Eric Brewer, Erik Johnson, Alex Pietrangelo, Matt D’Agostini and Dave Scatchard.
Those who visited Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center were Patrik Berglund, Jay McClement, Barret Jackman, B.J. Crombeen, Alex Steen, Jaroslav Halak and Carlo Colaiacovo.
Those who visited Ranken Jordan were Brad Boyes, Tyson Strachan and Ty Conklin.
And those who visited Shriners Hospitals for Children were David Backes, Cam Janssen and Stefan Della Rovere.