Friday, February 17, 2012


Halak misses practice, Bishop might get
recalled; Colaiacovo returns after missing game

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- With a full practice and all players participating, there was a noticeable exception at one end of the ice for the Blues.

Goalie Jaroslav Halak missed practice because of the flu. Halak came in Friday morning but was not feeling well. He was scheduled to start against Minnesota but now it will be Brian Elliott in goal for the first time this season against the Wild.

If Halak continues to not feel well into the day Friday and into Saturday, the team will call up Ben Bishop from Peoria to back up Elliott.

"He came in this morning and wasn't feeling good," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Halak. "(General manager Doug Armstrong) will talk to training staff to see if Bishop needs to be recalled."

The story on Bishop, an AHL All-Star this season, is that he's eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end if he doesn't play in 17 NHL games this season. The Blues have plenty of options regarding Bishop down the stretch this season, including offering him up in a trade.

* Colaiacovo returns -- Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (wrist) was back at practice Friday after missing Thursday's game because of an injury suffered Wednesday at practice.

Colaiacovo fell awkwardly into the corner boards after getting tangled up with T.J. Oshie and landed weird on his hand. X-rays were negative he was back at practice Friday and is ready to play against the Wild.

"It was just an unlucky break," Colaiacovo said. "I battled in the corner and I just fell awkwardly. Fortunately, it wasn't something too serious, but it was bad enough and it was pretty painful yesterday. I was hoping that I'd wake up in the morning (Thursday) and it was something I could try to play through. It just wasn't the case. I did what I had to do yesterday to make sure that I can get myself on the ice today and it felt really good. I'm looking to get back in there tomorrow.

"You're always scared when something like that happens. Thankfully, it wasn't something more worse than it is. It happens. It hurt not to play yesterday because I always want to be out there playing, but I'm glad that it's feeling better today. That's the only thing I can look forward to is getting myself ready to play tomorrow."

Hitchcock wasn't committing Colaiacovo back into the lineup.

"He's available for selection. We'll decide how we do tomorrow," Hitchcock said of Colaiacovo." That's kind of tomorrow's decision. I was happy with Huskins, so we'll just see how he feels tomorrow, whether we give him another day or two.

That's because the Blues' coach was impressed with Kent Huskins, who returned after missing 46 games with a broken bone in his left ankle.

"Smart, steady, determined to defend. He's good that way," Hitchcock said of Huskins. "He's a solid guy, a solid citizen back there. He's got a good stick. I think he calms things down. I think he came into a pretty revved up hockey game. It was a good sign that he survived it fine, came through it fine physically. Now we're moving forward. To get him and (Jason) Arnott and (Andy) McDonald back's like getting free players right now. That's good depth for us right now."

Winger Alex Steen skated again Friday, but he continues to be out indefinitely.

* Working out their deficiencies -- Despite Thursday's decisive win over the Islanders, Hitchcock was not pleased in some areas of the Blues' game, namely spending what the veteran coach feels has been too much time in their own zone. The team worked on those issues Friday.

"We practiced today with some of the issues that were there," Hitchcock said. "The Islanders were a fast, high, up-tempo hockey club.

"We got caught puck-staring. I thought our checking tempo was a little bit slow at the start. Once we started to dial it up, we were in good shape, but man, we were slow out of the gate. Today was a real up-tempo, fast practice with fast on offense and fast on defense. We just got to spend less time in our own zone. We're (spending) way too much time in our own zone. We're not allowing ourselves to have the shot totals that we used to have."

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