Steen, Bouwmeester status TBA after skating; Backes
visits, not on the ice; Allen focuses on future after being pulled
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- With a list of injured players growing for the Blues, two of them skated Wednesday in hopes of a return to game action, perhaps as soon as Thursday.
Alexander Steen (lower body) and Jay Bouwmeester (groin), suited up and took part in a full practice. The Blues (18-8-2) face the New York Islanders (19-9-0) Thursday at Scottrade Center.
Steen, who's missed two games since playing at Nashville, skated on a line with Patrik Berglund at center and T.J. Oshie on right wing. He had fun with the media afterwards when asked how he felt, can he play, etc.
So you skated today ...
"Yep, I skated today," Steen said with a grin. "That's all I got today boys.
"I laced them up and I was out there. It was fun. We had a good time. That's where we are in the progression. It's been a few days without, so I did it today. It felt good. I felt pretty good. I felt like I was moving pretty good. ... We'll leave that for a little bit. Right now, I was happy I was out there with the boys. It's been too long."
Bouwmeester has missed eight games since injuring his groin Nov. 22 at Ottawa. He's been able to skate, then level off and sit, skate and so forth. But never to the point where he could return to a game after ramping up his practices on occasion.
"I haven't really skated a whole lot lately," Bouwmeester said. "It was good just to be a part of a practice and move along.
"At first, it's frustrating. I've had a couple little setbacks, I guess. It's just one of those things where it takes time and hopefully we're over the hump now. ... Today was the best I felt. It's been getting better lately. Now it's a day to day sort of thing."
"It's one of those things where you just don't know how it's going to respond," Bouwmeester added. "Sometimes you have to test it at first and see. But I think it's progressed to the point now where we can get through a practice. That's all positive."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock erred on the side of caution.
"We'll get a better medical update later on here," Hitchcock said. "Hopefully they both can come in and play, but we'll see. Neither one of them's going to play unless they're comfortable and they can start finishing games. We'll see how they do. We won't know anything really until later on tonight and even in the morning. Keep everybody on board and get everybody ready. Get to 20 tomorrow.
"We made the decision last night that they were going to skate today. I'll get a read from the trainers to see if they're available for us."
Captain David Backes (mouth) was a non-participant Wednesday and would be classified as highly questionable/doubtful against the Islanders after taking a puck to the mouth, an injury that is recurring from past incidents.
"We'll see how David is," Hitchcock said. "David showed up today, but we didn't want him practicing so we'll see how he feels tomorrow to see if he can skate. ... He just came in, visited, said hello to everybody and left."
"He's not great. It's the same place two or three times. Same injury. Add the lower lip to what happened to the upper lip and it's very painful. Once that subsides and you can take jars and physical play ... he's obviously going to have to wear a face shield and stuff like that. We'll see where it goes. He's going to have to play with a shield for a little while I think, but you can't play when you're not comfortable pain-wise. It's not fair. It's not fair to the player. We've got enough players to play right now anyways."
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who has sustained concussion symptoms stemming from a high hit against the Islanders' Anders Lee, was on hand at the practice facility but when asked if Gunnarsson was any better, Hitchcock was to the point.
"No. Out," he said. "No good."
* Allen regroups -- Jake Allen's last go in goal didn't go according to plan.
Allen was lifted after the first period Saturday against the Islanders, after allowing three goals on 12 shots as the Blues fell behind 3-0 before rallying to a 6-4 victory after Martin Brodeur came on and backstopped the victory.
Allen is anxious to just play and not really gain a measure of redemption when he opposes the Islanders on Thursday.
"It's not really a chip on my shoulder towards the team or anything," Allen said. "I didn't even feel like I played bad except for that last goal. I'm just looking forward to get back in the net. It doesn't matter what team it was. I get to have another challenge, another opportunity. It feels like it's been a while since I played, but I'm looking forward to it. I'll be excited for tomorrow."
Allen, who is 8-3-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .908 save percentage, wasn't about to fret over the benching.
"I guarantee I'm going to get pulled 15 or 20 more times during my career," Allen said. "I can't get too worried about it. It's one game. Hopefully there will be hundreds and hundreds more than I play."
"They had the bounces in the first. I don't think we even played a bad first period from a team standpoint. We picked our game up in the second and got the bounces. It was just a great comeback and took it over in the third."
This is the very reason Hitchcock will go back to Allen in goal Thursday.
"He's moved on. He had a great practice today," Hitchcock said of Allen. "He's moved on, focused, excited. I think they're in a great situation. They're learning from Marty.
"If I had Scotty Bowman or Toe Blake sitting and hovering over me and it was my chance to learn from that, man it would be like gold. They have the right attitude towards what Marty can help them (with) and teach them and show them. It's really important because this is going to be everlasting. This is going to be stuff that they're going to remember forever. Having the right attitude towards getting a chance to learn is really important."