Perron progressing; Huskins injury upgraded; Chorney paitiently waits
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When David Perron steps onto the ice with his Blues teammates these days, it appears he hasn't missed a beat.
Hardly looks like a guy who has been out of hockey for almost a year.
"There's days that I feel really good and I'll push as hard as I can pretty much," Perron said after Tuesday's practice at St. Louis Mills' Ice Zone. "In terms of the intensity of the workout, I feel I'm right up there.
"In practices, I feel more like a regular player now, but I still find that my timing's a little off. I still find that I'm a little slow out there in terms of some of the stuff I'm doing. Maybe that's just the feeling that I'm having, but it's not too bad so far. I feel pretty good."
David Perron (right) continues to progress and is inching closer to getting
back into the lineup for the Blues.
Perron, who hasn't played in an organized hockey game since taking that hard blow to the head by San Jose's Joe Thornton Nov. 4 of last season, still wears the red no-contact jersey. There is still no immediate timetable for a potential return to the ice but since resuming his workout regimen on Sept. 26, there have been no setbacks.
"He's getting closer, but there's no timeline," Blues coach Davis Payne said of Perron. "He's continuing to get back in shape. He might be in a little bit better condition at this point."
Perron, who scored five goals and added two assists in 10 games last season, traveled with the Blues on their recent three-game swing to Western Canada. He said it's all part of the process and good to get back with the guys on a regular basis.
"It was fun to be on the trip," said Perron, who would like to continue traveling to road games while he's out. "I think the first couple days, I felt a little more tired than I normally would be from traveling. That was new to me again. Just to be around the guys and doing the similar things that they do practicing, pregame meals and all that stuff was fun to do.
"I like where I'm at. I feel pretty good. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and see what happens."
For those that are counting the days until Perron returns, it won't be until he's 100 percent.
"That's why I'm going to take it slowly and get back at it," Perron said. "We can't forget that the biggest thing is to make sure I'm 100 percent healthy. That's my only concern right now. I'd love to be helping the Blues out right now, but to be honest, I'm just trying to get back to 100 percent and when I do that, I'll be able to help them more after that."
* Huskins injury -- As it turns out, defenseman Kent Huskins doesn't have a bone fracture in his left ankle.
Payne said on Tuesday that Huskins suffered a deep bone bruise blocking a shot in Friday's loss at Calgary. The initial diagnosis brought forth a fracture, but when Blues doctors examined the 32-year-old Monday, the injury wasn't as bad as initially feared.
Defenseman Kent Huskins (6) has a deep bone bruise
instead of a bone fracture in his left ankle as initially feared.
Huskins is listed as day-to-day and remains questionable for this weekend games, Friday at home against Vancouver and Saturday in Minnesota.
"He's day-to-day and hasn't skated," Payne said. "We'll see if he gets back on the ice here (Wednesday or Thursday) and where that takes us."
Huskins had been paired with Alex Pietrangelo on the blue line, but Carlo Colaiacovo returned to that familiar role for the rest of the game against Calgary and Sunday in Edmonton.
* Power play woes -- The continued struggles for the Blues' special teams -- particularly the power play -- has the team searching for answers and trying to find ways to break through.
The Blues are currently last in the league on the power play (3-for-36) at 8.3 percent. Only the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks (4-for-45, 8.9 percent) are below the 10-percent threshold.
But nobody's panicking in the locker room, since the Blues feel like the chances are there.
"We hadn't been (getting good opportunities), but I think the last couple games, they have been better," winger Matt D'Agostini said. "We're getting a lot better zone time, shots on net and chances. ... We've got talent on this team to put in goals. I don't think we're too worried about being snake-bitten or anything like that."
The Blues are eighth in the league in 5-on-5 situations, and once they get the speciality teams straightened out, that 5-6 record should vastly improve.
"I think early on, there was some execution that didn't get in the net and then all of the sudden, we kind of got ourselves spun into a number of different situations where the unit's changing and Andy (McDonald's) out," Payne said. "Now all of the sudden, we have trouble getting the puck in the zone. I don't think that's as much of an issue now. Now you see teams really coming at us because they know we haven't scored a bunch of power play goals.
"I think the guys are gaining an understanding of how we're going to counteract that and how we're going to stick with it. ... These guys are too good to be held off for too long."
* Line shuffling -- The Blues did some line configurations at Tuesday's practice, and some of that was attributed to the fact that veteran center Jason Arnott (family issues) was absent.
Namely, winger Evgeny Grachev was on the left side playing with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart in a top six role.
Grachev, acquired for a third-round pick at the NHL Entry Draft, led the Blues in scoring in the preseason but has been limited to a fourth-line role.
"We want to take a look at these things now and see if he can elevate his game," Payne said. "It's a situation where he's a big body with skill. We've got the Arnott line that's contributing well and we need to find that piece that gets everyone else on the same page.
"There's six or seven other guys that we want to get in better sync than they are now. I would say that we're closer now than we were after Game 5, but we've still got some room to go."
Winger Jamie Langenbrunner was taking the reps on the third line at center, between Alex Steen and D'Agostini.
* Chorney waits ... patiently -- Taylor Chorney was claimed off waivers by the Blues from the Oilers on Oct. 11. And although the defenseman hasn't seen any game action with the Blues, the 24-year-old continues to work hard in hopes of cracking the lineup.
"Possible," Payne said when asked if Chorney could play this weekend. "... He's been very good. He's continued to work and pay attention and prepare. That's what a guy like that has to do. The worst thing a guy can do is not prepare and all of the sudden you get your chance and you're not ready for it. He'll be ready for it."
Chorney was skating on a pairing with Roman Polak Tuesday, and Nikita Nikitin, who has struggled -- particularly in the defensive end -- this season, was skating as the extra defenseman.
"I don't think I can sit around and feel sorry for myself," Chorney said. "I'm here and I still feel I want to be a part of the organization.
"I got picked up on waivers. It could be worse. I could be in the minors right now riding it out. I'm happy to be here, but at some point, you want to get in there and show your work on the ice as well. Hopefully that chance will come soon. ... I feel I've done what I can in practice. I've been working hard on doing some extra stuff as well."