D'Agostini OK; Sobotka feeling better; Elliott starts tonight, Halak over weekend
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Matt D'Agostini was back at practice today after leaving Saturday's 1-0 win over San Jose, a game in which the winger left early in the third period following a blue-line check from the Sharks' Jamie McGinn.
D'Agostini, who called it a good and clean hit, skated for about 30 minutes on the team's off-day Tuesday and resumed working with them Wednesday and will play tonight against the New York Rangers.
"I felt very symptom-free the last couple days," D'Agostini said. "They take a lot of precautions nowadays with the way the head injuries have been. Understandably so, but I've been feeling good and felt good out at practice today.
"It just kind of gave me a little whiplash kind of effect, kind of a stiff neck and everything, but the head was fine. They just wanted to make sure nothing more came of it."
With the rash of concussion-like injuries going on around the league these days, the Blues are fortunate there was no further injury to D'Agostini. The team has had its share of injuries (David Perron, Andy McDonald, Carlo Colaiacovo) to players in the last couple seasons alone.
* Sobotka feeling better -- Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Vladimir Sobotka, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, was feeling a lot better Wednesday after injuring his left ankle at Monday's practice when he blocked a shot from teammate Alex Steen during a drill. The Blues have said they will re-evaluate Sobotka in two weeks.
Sobotka was still in a walking boot and walking with crutches Wednesday, and Hitchcock said he'll remain in one until at least the swelling subsides so the team can have a better idea of what they're dealing with.
* Grachev to get a game -- Evgeny Grachev, recalled from Peoria Tuesday to replace Sobotka on the active roster, is expected to get into the lineup in at least one of the next three games, according to Hitchcock. The Blues' coach liked the role Grachev, who was acquired by the Blues at the NHL Entry Draft from the Rangers for a third-round pick, played during his three games with the Rivermen.
"One of the things intriguing to me about Grachev is he went down and played a different role down there," Hitchcock said of Grachev, who was pointless in three games with Peoria while picking up two assists in 17 games with the Blues earlier this season. "Probably the role he's going to end up playing in the NHL. He got into the 5-on-5, PK, playing against the top lines roll down there and he was very successful. I think it gives us more of an indication that we might be able to get our hands on a good third-line player over time rather than a scoring forward."
* Elliott-Halak platoon continues -- The Blues will go with red-hot Brian Elliott (12-2 with an NHL-best 1.45 goals-against average and .947 save percentage and tied with LA's Jonathan Quick with four shutouts) against the Rangers. But Hitchcock said Jaroslav Halak, who is has a 1.66 GAA and .936 save percentage over his last nine starts, will go for the Blues Saturday in Nashville as well as Sunday against Columbus.
Hitchcock said he wants to see Halak play in back-to-back games and see how the goalie responds.
Elliott, coming off a shutout win over San Jose, gets the nod based on one shutout, but Hitchcock doesn't reward a second straight shutout with another start. But the Blues will need both goalies, as they begin a stratch of 15 games in 31 days beginning tonight.