By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Barret Jackman has played in over 500 career NHL games, and when he tells Davis Payne he's ready to get back in the lineup, the coach tends to listen.
Jackman, who's been on injured reserve since breaking the index finger on his right hand, has been activated from IR and will return to the lineup tonight when the Blues (35-32-10) host the Calgary Flames (38-29-11) at Scottrade Center (7 p.m. on FSN, KMOX 1120-AM).
"When he makes a statement that he wants to get back in, get back amongst his teammates, it's a great statement of leadership," Payne said of Jackman, who missed 10 games. "He's a guy that has always fought through a lot of stuff. When he's able and ready, it's a great example for our guys to follow. Here's a guy who's doing whatever's necessary to help the team out. That's the kind of guy Jacks is."
Initially, the Blues put a 4- to 6-week timeline on Jackman's injury, which at the time would have put him at the very least at or near the end of the regular season. But Jackman never saw it that way.
"I never put a timeline in my head when I had the injury," he said. "Whenever I feel like I'm not going to hurt myself any further and I'm not going to hurt the team, it's time to get in the lineup.
"Right from the second day after surgery, I was on the bike and I continued to do light workouts and things that would keep me in shape to get back. If it would have been right to the end of the year, I would have continued to do it."
To make room for Jackman, the Blues have assigned defenseman Ian Cole back to Peoria.
Cole, 22, has played in 26 games with the Blues -- the last 13 coming in this recent call-up. He totaled three assists and four points but gained immeasurable experience and his play was not reflective of why he was returned to the American Hockey League.
"He played very well," Payne said of Cole. "His puck movement, his physical play, some of the experiences you get out of reads, rush coverage scenarios ... those are all things that are incredibly valuable. There was some real quality play out of him.
"He's got to understand that there are some roster moves that have to be made based on all the transactions that have gone on, who can and who can't go up and down. He knows he's left a positive imprint. Whether he gets back up will be dependent on health. He's got to look at next year's training camp as there are no advantages. Everybody's coming in on equal footing. He's going to focus on coming in and staking his claim permanently."
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The Blues enter tonight's game in Calgary averaging 5.5 goals per game in the last four, going 3-0-1 in those four games. Of course, scoring 10 of those 22 goals in the last game at Detroit certainly helps, but the offense seems to be finding it's way back onto the sticks.
"I think we've been getting back to our game offensively," said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who's on a five-game point streak with a goal and five assists. "We have a pretty big group of forwards that have a lot of skill. I think they do a of really good job of making it hard on other teams' defensive corps. We've been getting pucks to the net, a lot of shots in the past few games."
Said Payne, "A lot can be made of that situation. It shows in our transition game, it shows in the way these guys like Shattenkirk have added to our mix back there, the way (Alex Pietrangelo) is working. I think ultimately, you can look at a 10-spot in Detroit, it's an off-night for them.
"I believe that you don't just turn on success. I believe that your habits and the details that you play with translate from one game to the next, from one year to the next. These are things we've talked about, these are things we're demanding. We're not going to go through a summer and all of the sudden flip a switch and say this is how we need to play. We need to play the right way right now."
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Tonight's projected lineup, which includes the return of both Jackman, T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen.
The Blues announced late Friday afternoon that Steen, who was also injured March 9 at Columbus with a high ankle sprain, will return to the lineup. His original prognosis also was 4-6 weeks. Philip McRae is the scratch tonight.
Andy McDonald-David Backes-Matt D'Agostini
T.J. Oshie-Patrik Berglund-Chris Stewart
Alex Steen-Vladimir Sobotka-Chris Porter
Ryan Reaves-B.J. Crombeen-Cam Janssen
Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Nikita Nikitin-Roman Polak
Jaroslav Halak will start in goal. He's 1-3-0 with a 3.03 goals-against average and .910 save percentage against Calgary in his career. He's coming off a 41-save effort Wednesday in Detroit.
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The Flames, who have endured a large share of injures like the Blues, get some good news with the return of center Daymond Langkow back to the lineup tonight.
Langkow has not played since suffering a broken neck last season when he took a shot off the back of his neck off a shot from teammate Ian White on March 21, 2010 in a game against Minnesota: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTE10oA976Q
The Flames are running out of time in their chase for the playoffs, trailing eighth-place Chicago by three points with only four games remaining.
With Langkow's return to the lineup, Ales Kotalik has been assigned to Abbotsford of the AHL. Also missing from Calgary's lineup due to injury include LW Fredrik Modin (back), LW Niklas Hagman (concussion), RW David Moss (ankle), C Brendan Morrison (knee), D Adam Pardy (shoulder) and LW Raitis Ivanans (concussion). D Steve Staios is a healthy scratch.
Alex Tanguay-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Tim Jackman-Matt Stajan-Tom Kostopoulos
Greg Nemisz-Daymond Langkow-Lance Bouma
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Brett Carson-Anton Babchuk
Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal. He's 17-4-2 with a 1.93 GAA and .925 save percentage in his career against the Blues, including 3-0-0 with a ridiculous .033 GAA and .988 save percentage against them this season.
"We could peel a few of those back from Detroit to dump in against Kiprusoff would probably be a choice we'd take," Payne said. "He's played well against us. The other thing is their D have really kept us to the outside. We've got to do a great job of getting in there, we've got to do a great job of getting the puck in there. They deny that and they denied us that type of game. ... He's the type of goaltender if he gets in a groove and he's seeing pucks, not much gets by him."