Monday, January 25, 2016

Schwartz not far away from playing for Blues

Left wing out with fractured left ankle skating, feeling return is close

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz has been out of the Blues' lineup most of the season, and it's been what he's called, "a tough situation."

Schwartz missed his 45th game Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks, but if all goes according to plan, it won't be long before the Blues' left wing rejoins his teammates for the stretch run, which for the Blues, will be 30 regular season games remaining.

Schwartz has been skating for 3-4 weeks, he said, but to finally be able to get on the ice with his teammates after a nasty fractured left ankle sustained in practice Oct. 23 is something he's been looking forward to. Schwartz was ready to join his teammates. He was ready to skate with the boys and made his first trip since the injury last week.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaden Schwartz (right) attempts to get a shot off against Edmonton's Cam
Talbot in a game earlier this season at Rexall Place.

"Yeah for sure. That's something you look forward to," Schwartz said before the Blues faced the Blackhawks on Sunday. "I've never really been out this long before. It's a tough situation to be in. ... It sucks. You miss hanging out with (the team), especially on the road. Watching definitely gets old. You want to be a part of the team as soon as you can, so it's nice taking this first road trip and be done with that and taking morning skates with the team."

Schwartz joined the Blues for the first time on ice Wednesday in Detroit and has skated every day since, including three morning skates with teammates.

So far, things have gone according to plan from an injury that the Blues said at the time would have them re-evaluate in 12 weeks (it's been 13 weeks and a three days today).

"I didn't know what to expect," Schwartz said. "You ask questions, but everyone's kind of different. Everyone heals differently. You kind of go through a different process. You don't put weight on it for a while. Once you start putting weight, you get that mobility back and strength and things like that. It's been a good process, it's been a long process, but I've felt like we've done a lot of work to try getting me feeling back as good as I can and then once you start skating, that's kind of another whole different situation. That's something you've got to get used to with adjusting your skates and going through different things like that.

"Yeah, you've just got to get the strength back. You're still going to have a couple issues on the ice, but that's something you've got to work through. That's kind of why I'm with the team now trying to work through that and get up to pace a little bit."

Schwartz recalled the injury, one in which he was participating in a pre-practice drill, lost an edge reaching for a rebound of a shot to Brian Elliott's left and crashed hard into the side netting, buckling his ankle underneath him.

"Yeah, I figured it would be serious," Schwartz said. "I've broken a few bones. You kind of hope for the best, but it swelled up pretty quick and it was probably one of the most painful injuries I've ever had. Obviously you couldn't put any weight on it and knew right away. Then I found out a few guys have had that injury so you ask them some questions and you see what that process was like."

The post All-Star break has been sort of the target for Schwartz's return, which would put him back on Feb. 2 at Nashville when the Blues return from the break. There are no guarantees, but it's a realistic possibility.

"Yeah ... I'm not sure. Obviously you don't want to rush it and reinjure it, but that was our goal," said Schwartz, who had four assists in seven games before going down. "I definitely feel better. It's week to week. I've been feeling a lot better. Day to day, you don't notice a lot of difference. Week to week, it's definitely a better feeling and comfortability on the ice. We'll see. Over the next few days, do some extra work. Don't know the exact date; we don't have a date circled, but hopefully short after the break."

One good indicator for Schwartz: he's ramping up his skate sessions more and more each time on the ice. And each time, he's had no issues, another good indicator.

"Yeah, pushing, trying different things," Schwartz said. "Skating and pivoting. You can do things on your own on the ice, but when you get on the ice with the team, it's different. That's a good way to push it.

"Yeah, it's different for sure. It's not normal yet, but we're getting there. Skating by myself felt pretty good. You're able to work on a number of things on your own and kind of see what you can and can't do. When you get on with these guys, there's certain things you find out you find out that you need to work on and then that's something I can work on in practice."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Jaden Schwartz (17) has missed the past 45 games with an
injured left ankle and is close to returning to the lineup.

While his teammates get away for the break to rest and relax and allow bodies to heal, Schwartz, who has 62 goals and 139 points in 214 NHL games, will stay in St. Louis and continue to work through Wednesday before he gets away for a couple days himself. Because it's all about getting back for the stretch run and helping an offense that runs hot and cold. 

Adding a player like Schwartz for the Blues is as good as any trade deadline deal or a free agent signing.

"Yeah, I kind of expected that," Schwartz said on staying in St. Louis a few extra days. "I want to get back as soon as I can. We decided that was best for me. With me hopefully coming back right after the break, it only makes sense. I've got to get back into shape."

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