Arnott, Colaiacovo back on ice, geared for opener; Blues roster set for opener
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- When Jason Arnott played in his first and only preseason game, he knew right away something wasn't right.
"I came off the ice and was like, 'Man, this is not right. I just do not feel right,'" Arnott recalled. "So we took time off there to see if I could get contacts and we didn't, so I went and got the (procedure) done and that's it."
The veteran Arnott was back on the ice Sunday a little over a week after playing against the Minnesota Wild. He was getting a cataract removed from his right eye earlier in the week and is on track for the season opener at home against Nashville.
"Everything went really well. I can see again. That's a good thing,." Arnott joked. "The doctor was phenomenal. No repercussions yet and things have been going smooth and it's nice to get back on the ice.
"I felt good. I've got to get used to the visor. It's definitely different. I'll have it for a little while. I'll see how long I have to wear it. For now, just for my own protection, I have to wear it."
Arnott said the eye is something that was bothering him dating back to last season.
"It was bothering me last year quite a bit," Arnott said. "I had trouble seeing and blurred vision and things like that. I just went and got it diagnosed and found out and they couldn't tell me why I got it. It's one of those things.
"I got the left eye done early on. I got a contact to try and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't see very well. My head just didn't feel right, so we opted to go get the other one done, so far it's been great."
Blues coach Davis Payne was encouraged.
"It was the first time he was on the ice with things happening at pace, different variables, guys moving in and out of his line of sight," Payne said. "He thought that everything was clear, real happy with the way he felt. That's a good step. Tuesday will be another good day for him."
* Colaiacovo dodges scare -- Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has lived through a number of injuries in his career.
So when there was a mysterious upper-body injury in Thursday's preseason game against Colorado that would eventually be disclosed as a chest injury, the Blues and Colaiacovo are glad to have dodged a bullet.
"It was just an incident that it didn't feel good at the time," said Colaiacovo, who was back on the ice Sunday. "Luckily, I escaped the worst. I feel good today and making progress every day. I'm looking forward to getting better every day.
"It happened early in the game. I'm not going to get into specifics, but I tried to work through it and it kept getting worse. I got to the point where I just couldn't put up with it anymore. I left the game and had a real hard time that night but the last couple days had some real good strides with it. I am where I am today. I felt good out there and I just want to continue moving forward."
There were tests conducted to see if there was any further damage just as a precaution.
"Obviously the concern at first was to just make sure there was nothing wrong," Colaiacovo said. "After that, I came to the rink, did my treatment, got on the bike and had no setbacks.
"It's been a slow process but at the end of the day, I'm here skating today. I felt good, I skated this morning, tested it out, felt good and joined in practice and I feel good right now. Let's hope it continues this way."
* Elliott happy -- One would be upset, the other pleased. That's the cut-and-dry reaction from both Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott. So when Elliott won the battle for the backup job behind starter Jaroslav Halak, the more experienced Elliott was smiles on Sunday.
"It was a tough competition," Elliott said. "You want everybody in the organization to do well. You just want to do the best you can and hopefully that's what helps the team go forward and helps the team get a win every night.
"My job is to stop as many pucks as you can, be a good team guy and when called upon, just get in there and compete like I can."
Payne said he and general manager Doug Armstrong were ready to get down to the final group after Saturday's 4-0 loss in the preseason finale.
"Just kind of the assessment of how the whole process went last night," Payne said. "We didn't like the way the game went, didn't really like the atmosphere. We just wanted to clarify things and get to work. It was a short conversation between Doug and I right after I got done with you (media) guys. We made the decision. Let's get going, and that's it.
"It was the whole room, bench, team play, performance. Enough's enough. Let's get to our group. Let's get to work."
Elliott, who split time last year between Ottawa and Colorado, now must play up to standards to stay in the league. He had no idea a decision was looming.
"It's Step One," he said. "They say it's really hard to come to the NHL, but it's harder to stay. You just have to work hard and be a team guy.
"You just put it out of your mind, come every day and work hard. If you think about it too much, that's when you start messing with yourself mentally and ultimately playing poorly. I just tried to come every day, be happy, have a smile on my face and work hard."
* Porter, Reaves and Grachev outlast the rest -- Two open spots on forward became three with the injury to B.J. Crombeen, and it was Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves and Evgeny Grachev that stood out over the rest.
The Blues optioned eight players to Peoria on Saturday, but the aforementioned trio were left behind in St. Louis. It's how they wanted it.
"It's always a good feeling. I get good experience," Grachev said. "I'm going to try and make the best out of it. I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can.
"I hope to get better in all aspects. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow, so you just want to give yourself the best chance and see what happens."
All three players the Blues chose to keep, according to Payne, fill a necessary role.
"Starting with Reaves, he fills a role," Payne said. "His game in Colorado shows the kind of impact he can have in that role. Ports is a guy that works hard and gives us that depth in that checking role. Grach came in and with a good opportunity, did what he needed to do with it.
"There are some things that these guys need to work on and will continue to work on that. We feel we've got good options there with those three guys in a number of different roles."
"Last year was get your foot in the door and show him what you can do," Porter said. "Now it's add to that and bring that every night and contribute to wins."