Perron to face Thornton for first time since
injury; Colaiacovo working back into form
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- They haven't seen one another in more than 13 months, but for the Blues' David Perron and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, it'll be time to once and for all put "the hit" to rest.
The Blues (16-9-3) and Sharks (15-9-1) square off for the second time this season at 7 p.m. today at Scottrade Center (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) but it will be the first time Perron will face the Sharks since suffering a concussion from a hit delivered by Thornton near center ice.
Thornton was coming out of the penalty box and delivered a crushing blow that would eventually knock Perron down. He left momentarily but returned to score a goal in the Blues' 2-0 win on Nov. 4, 2010. But eventually, Perron would wind up being sidelined the rest of the season and for the first 25 games this season.
Perron reflected on the incident Friday.
"Coming out of the box, he was probably so frustrated from that previous penalty, he wanted to get his game going, get physical and he saw that I was there," Perron said of Thornton. "To say it's disappointing that he didn't contact me afterwards, it's tough to say. I moved on pretty quickly after that.
"I'm a pretty forgiving person. I forgave him pretty much right away. We all make mistakes in our lives. Sometimes it's bigger than others. I can move on from that and hopefully he can learn something about it."
Thornton was suspended two games at the time for his first such offense.
"I know Joe well and that's not his intention at all," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It was kind of an unfortunate thing. For me, I think everybody's gone past it. Joe's not that type of player, doesn't even think that way and I'm sure he felt as bad as ... I don't think anybody thought it would be what it was, but I'm sure he felt as bad as anybody did.
"For David's sake, he's come back, he feels good and you hope it stays that way. You don't want to see any setbacks from where he's at, and I'm sure Joe feels the same way."
Perron was asked if he expects anything from Thornton when the two are on the ice and there's a stoppage in play.
"I think he'll be pretty respectful," Perron said of Thornton. "He knows what he did and I think he'll be pretty respectful and so will his teammates."
Upon his return last week against Chicago, Perron did receive a text message from Thornton earlier in the day wishing him luck and glad that he was back healthy again.
"I didn't really expect anything, but it's nice to get that one," Perron said of the text. "I think he's a pretty classy guy from what I know of him. I met him at the All-Star Game in Atlanta. He's just a nice guy. I'm sure he'll be happy to get that one out of the way, too."
* So far, so good for Colaiacovo -- Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who missed eight games with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 17, has played the last two games with partner Alex Pietrangelo without any repercussions.
He played 18 minutes 3 seconds in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Detroit and another 16:15 of ice time Thursday against Anaheim, collecting one assist in the game.
"It's getting better with every day of skating," Colaiacovo said of the hamstring. "The strength isn't exactly where I want it to be right now, but it's at a point where I can still get stuff done out there. I'm just going to keep working at it every day, battle through it and keep getting better with it.
Colaiacovo was one of about half the team that skated Friday at the optional practice at St. Louis Mills simply to keep getting his conditioning back into form.
"Sometimes it feels like my upper body's fast and my lower body's not moving as fast as I'd like," Colaiacovo said. "That all comes with skating more, getting more games under me and doing the right things I need to do."
The Blues played an average game at best in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Ducks, and Colaiacovo said it's a good sign to win without the team's best game.
"There were areas in the game yesterday that we were sloppy and out of our character," he said. "We went over it, we talked about it and it's a learning curve for us. The good thing is when you do have those moments, you're able to persevere, come through them and still get the win. It's a good thing to build off of.
"That's a sign of us growing up and a sign of us becoming a team that we want to be, a team that can compete and be with the elite of the NHL."
* Changes for lineup against the Sharks -- The Blues won't know the status of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk until after the morning skate prior to facing San Jose.
Shattenkirk missed Thursday's game against Anaheim after coming down with a sudden bout of a stomach flu.
Ian Cole, a healthy scratch Tuesday, didn't expect to be playing Thursday. He stepped in nicely with a goal and an assist for his second career multi-point game.
"We'll see where Shatty's at," Hitchcock said. "But Cole played good yesterday. He had a heck of a hockey game. He's really worked hard at practice here in the last three practices and that shows in the game he's played. Really impressive."
If Shattenkirk returns, it's likely that Cole will go back to the press box. Shattenkirk did skate during Friday's optional practice but said he would see how he feels Saturday morning.
Also, Brian Elliott will get the start after Jaroslav Halak was sharp, stopping 21 shots in the victory over the Ducks.
Elliott earned his first victory as a Blue in a 4-2 win at San Jose Oct. 15.
"Just keep rotating and playing," Hitchcock said of his goalies. "When you've got two guys playing well, for me, two guys are going to have to play."
* Scouting the Sharks -- The Blues entered Friday's action in fifth place, tied with fourth-place Detroit with 35 points. San Jose is seventh in the Western Conference with 31 points but have played three fewer games than the Blues.
"They've got size, they've got weight to their game," Hitchcock said of the Sharks. "They've got determination, they've got skill.
"For me, every aspect of your game is tested. Your 5-on-5 play, your special teams, your D-zone coverage ... you get tested. You have to have a very competitive game plan and you've got to be able to stick with it for 60 minutes because they play what I call a probing game. ... I've watched them play a lot in the last five, six years as they've been building their team. They just get stronger and stronger."