Monday, November 21, 2011


Oshie expected to play; Jackman OK after puck to head; 
Colaiacovo likely out at least next two games

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It appears as if Blues winger T.J. Oshie will not miss any time.

After injuring his wrist in the first period of Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to Minnesota, all Oshie needed was a couple days off. There was some speculation that Oshie could miss time, and the team had recalled Brett Sterling from Peoria. But Blues coach Ken Hitchcock feels Oshie should be ready for the game Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

"We gave him two days off. He feels good," Hitchcock said of Oshie. "Unless something changes, he's in and ready to go tomorrow."

Monday at practice, Blues defenseman Barret Jackman took a puck off the side of his head and needed "four or five stitches" according to Hitchcock but won't miss any time either.

"They tell me Jacks gets that three or four times a year," Hitchcock said. "He was a guy you didn't want to be around in the locker room so we let him go to the hospital. He'll be fine for tomorrow."

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who is out with a mild hamstring strain, will not play Tuesday against the Kings and likely will miss Wednesday's game in Pittsburgh.

"I would say for sure he's not a player for the next two games and then we'll evaluate from there," Hitchcock said.

* 5-on-5 stingy -- After the month of October where the Blues surrendered 20 goals in 11 games playing 5-on-5 hockey, the Blues have really buckled down in the month of November.

Through eight games, the Blues have surrendered only four goals playing 5-on-5, including three in six games with Hitchcock as coach.

"I think they bought into the checking part of hockey," Hitchcock said of his players. "They were already partly bought in and we just kind of continued the program.

"If they buy into it, the harder they check, the more they score and then they see results. I think what happened was we came out checking hard and scored because of it. The buy-in was a little bit easier."

Playing with a sense of urgency each and every shift seems to have paid dividends.

"I think we keep our shifts short," center Scott Nichol said. "I don't think we really over-extend ourselves. When you over-extend yourself and get tired, your game starts slowing down and you don't react quite as quick.

"All year long, we've done a good job of staying fresh and rolling our lines."

Added captain David Backes: "... When you're playing at that high rate changing lines over quick, it's tough to play against when the guy against you is going 100 miles an hour. Even when we're making mistakes, we're making them at full speed so we can recover and get back above the puck. Other guys are bailing guys out when mistakes are made. It's a good recipe."

* Sterling ready -- Whether he plays a game here or not, winger Brett Sterling is ready to do whatever the Blues need of him.

Sterling has 12 goals and 22 points in 18 games with the Rivermen this season, and just in case Oshie can't play, Sterling will step in.

"Wherever I get into the lineup or whatever they want me to do, I'll do it out there," Sterling said. "My goal is to stick up here. Whatever situation you get, you've got to make the best of it because you never know how many chances you'll get."

* Fourth line success -- Hitchcock has raved about the play of the Blues' fourth line and with good reason.

They may not be scoring goals, but whether it be Nichol, Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter or Evgeny Grachev, they're making things happen.

"It's not all about scoring goals on our line," Nichol said. "It's about changing momentum or keeping the momentum or tiring their third or fourth line or their fourth, fifth, sixth defenseman out by keeping them in their end. ... We're just kind of keeping it simple."

* Kings come calling -- The Blues' brief one-game home stint will see the Kings come to town. It was back on Oct. 18 that the Blues arguably played their worst game of the season in LA, a 5-0 loss that saw Jaroslav Halak, who will start in goal once again Tuesday against the Kings (6:30 p.m. on Versus, KMOX 1120-AM), get pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots.

"They've got a good team over there," Backes said of the 10-7-3 Kings. "We kind of sloughed a little bit and they took advantage of every opportunity they had.

"We've got to make sure we play a much more solid game and we're aware of their speed and their weapons offensively and we're capitalizing on our chances."

After saying that Halak and Brian Elliott would split the upcoming two games, Hitchcock would only say Halak starts Tuesday and anything after that, "then we'll see."

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