Monday, January 17, 2011


Blues could get Oshie back in lineup tonight; Colaiacovo ready to play

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It's no secret of T.J. Oshie's amount of time spent on the ice in recent weeks. It's been countless time spent rehabbing a broken left ankle.

But Monday's practice at St. Louis Mills was more than just a practice.

"Today (was) a first full day of practice," Blues coach Davis Payne said.

By "full," it was Oshie's first time participating in full contact drills since the forward suffered his broken ankle Nov. 10 in Columbus.

Sources have indicated that there's an outside shot Oshie could make his return to the lineup tonight when the Blues host the Los Angeles Kings. It all depends on whether Oshie's ankle is sore or not this morning.

"We'll find out how the ankle responds and see where we sit," Payne said. "... One day at a time at this point."

Originally, Oshie was due to return in mid-February, but general manager Doug Armstrong indicated that the team had bumped up Oshie's timetable to a potential return by the All-Star break, which is the last weekend in January.

Monday's practice could very well determine how close Oshie really is.

"In the 2 on 2 situations, I thought he looked fine. I thought handling some of the pressure and the contact looked comfortable," Payne said of Oshie. "... Each time, we've ramped it up. There's been some response in there from his body. We've got to gauge that, the trainers have to do their jobs and the doctors theirs. ... It's not immediate. We know that. We just have to take each step, assess, take another step."

* Colaiacovo set to return -- Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who took a puck to the mouth early in first period of the Blues' 7-4 loss at Anaheim Wednesday, looks set to return to the lineup after missing the last two games of the trip.

Colaiacovo, who took nine stitches to close a gap on the outside of his upper lip and another three on the inside of his mouth, skated on Monday and appears set to get back in, according to Payne.

"He practiced full today. No reason to believe that he shouldn't be available for tomorrow," Payne said.

Colaiacovo is thankful that there wasn't any more damage after going to the hospital after the game against the Ducks.

"It could have been a lot worse," he said Monday. "I was just fortunate enough that I still got all my teeth and it's not something that's going to keep me out for longer than I was. I think I've got to be grateful for the way the team treated me through this whole time, getting me home through the road trip and really concentrating on getting my rest and focus on getting myself feeling back to normal. I just wasn't feeling like myself when it happened."

Colaiacovo, who doesn't wear a visor, took a shot from close range from the Ducks' Matt Beleskey. He immediately was helped off the ice from Blues' head trainer Ray Barile and did not return.

Despite the incident, Colaiacovo, who missed seven games earlier this season because of a concussion, doesn’t think about wearing a visor.

"For one game there I put one on, and it felt so weird," Colaiacovo said. "The thing I enjoy the most now without wearing one, I feel like I'm more into the game not wearing one. You feel the wind coming through your face and everything like that. You never want to start talking about stuff like that and second-guessing yourself. I'm not going to think about putting one on. Just worry about playing."

* Reaves. McRae impressing -- Recent Peoria recalls Philip McRae and Ryan Reaves have made favorable impressions so far.

Both McRae and Reaves were recalled before the Blues departed on their west coast swing and each contributed offensively, with Reaves picking up his first two goals in the NHL at Anaheim Wednesday and in Los Angeles Thursday. McRae, the son of former Blue and current team pro scout Basil McRae, collected his first NHL point.

"I thought in the LA game, that line was good," Payne said of the McRae, Reaves and Chris Porter line. "I thought that they generated and executed our structure very very well. I thought in the San Jose game, unfortunately, Ryan was one of the guys that had better energy and execution up front. That's a tough way to beat the San Jose Sharks. Not taking anything away from Ryan. I'm taking things away from what needed to be done by the whole group up front.

"Both guys handled themselves very well on the trip."

Reaves, whose father Willard was a three-time Canadian Football League all-star with Winnipeg in the mid-1980s, is on his second recall for the Blues. His first was short-lived.

"Any time I can score two goals, it's going better than expected," Reaves said. "It's starting to feel a little more comfortable. The first time, maybe I was a little more nervous. I know what's expected and I'm feeling good.

"I'm just making sure I play my game and sticking to it. Just doing what I've been doing in Peoria. ... I feel like I went down in Peoria and got my head on straight and came back with the same mentality that I had there. I'm not going to be doing anything fancy to put the puck in the net, that's for sure. Just going hard to the net. ... Nothing miraculous is coming out of me."

* Jackman hurt in practice -- Veteran defenseman Barret Jackman left practice early Monday after catching an inadvertent puck to the ear during a drill.

Jackman, who missed nine games earlier this season with a knee sprain, keeled over in pain and immediately left the ice with Barile, but Payne said afterwards Jackman should be fine for the game against the Kings.

"It's not a very pleasant feeling, but he'll I'm sure take the rest of the day and be ready to go tomorrow," Payne said.

* Scoreboard watching -- With the Blues involved in a heavily-contested Western Conference race, one wonders if the Blues (21-17-6) are catching themselves scoreboard-watching these days.

With 48 points and four points out of eighth place, the Blues are currently in 12th place in the Western Conference but feel like there's no need to worry about what others are doing.

"If you watch scoreboards and get caught up in that, with the discrepancy in games played and you start worrying about all that other BS, it ends up consuming you and you lose focus on what really you can control, and that's the task at hand," forward David Backes said after practice Monday. "For us, that's the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night at Scottrade Center."

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