Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Russell has MRI on injured hip; trio of players expected to return by weekend

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The injury merry-go-round continues for the Blues, who learned the fate of defenseman Kris Russell after Wednesday's MRI.

Russell was injured in Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Detroit with what coach Ken Hitchcock believes is some sort of hip ailment. Russell, acquired by the Blues from Columbus in November for defenseman Nikita Nikitin, played four shifts and 2 minutes 54 seconds of ice time before departing.

Russell was injured after some physical contact with the Wings' Johan Franzen. No announcement was made on Wednesday the extent of the injury.

"It's a hip," Hitchcock said. "(Russell) hit Franzen and then Franzen hit him. We're not sure yet ... hip-pointer, hip flexor. We just need to make sure we know what it is. It could be day to day, it could be time, we don't know right now."

If Russell should miss any period of time, Ian Cole, who has been a healthy scratch the previous eight games, would step in and play.

* Langenbrunner, Oshie, Sobotka ready to return -- The Blues, who had an optional practice Wednesday at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Mills, are expected to get forwards Jamie Langenbrunner (flu), T.J. Oshie (wrist) and Vladimir Sobotka (ankle) back at practice today.

Hitchcock said all or at least two of the three could return to the lineup Friday at home against Nashville.

"Langenbrunner skated lightly today, Oshie went full-out," Hitchcock said. "More hands on deck, so that's a good sign. We'll see if they're ready for full activity. We're assuming that two or maybe all three will be ready to go, but we'll see."

Despite the light workout, Langenbrunner, who missed the last two games, seemed to work up a good sweat. Asked if he was able to sweat out what was ailing him, he said, "I hope so."

Sobotka has missed seven games after taking a puck off the ankle from teammate Alex Steen in practice, while Oshie injured his left wrist last week, an injury Hitchcock said would only see Oshie hopefully miss just the last two games.

The Blues are already without forward Andy McDonald (concussion), who continues to skate and could be in line in the not too distant future to take his baseline test, defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle) and winger Ryan Reaves (hip), who was put on injured reserve Tuesday.

* Crombeen debut -- Winger B.J. Crombeen, who made his season debut in the loss at Detroit after fracturing the left shoulder in an exhibition game Oct. 1 against Dallas, played 6:45 in the game and maybe returned a little sooner than expected. But all went well for Crombeen, who hopes to remain in the lineup and make an impact on the Blues' fourth line and penalty killing unit.

"I felt pretty good in the last week or two in practice," Crombeen said. "I was able to take some contact and stuff like that, so I was just waiting for the medical clearance. I think I pushed it a little bit to try to get it a bit earlier.

"It was something where I felt good, I felt ready. Medically, I was at a point where I wasn't going to get much better. It was at where it was at. It felt good in the game. It was a fast, tough game. Just getting the timing back is something that's probably going to take a few games, but the legs and the shoulder felt good. That was a good sign. It's going to be a work in progress."

* Tuesday aftermath -- Losing a game after holding a two-goal lead and losing for the first time with a lead after two periods were two painful reminders of the Blues' 3-2 loss at Detroit. But what irked Hitchcock most about dropping a game to the Wings was a second period, in which the Blues had 18 shots, that saw St. Louis miss out on multiple odd-man rushes.

"We had our chances to really expand things," Hitchcock said. "But they took it back. ... We just needed to score on all the odd-man rushes we got because we may never get that many odd-man rushes again in that building.

"I think the difference was they dialed up the checking a little bit in the third period, and they had us on our heels a little bit. They came at us with their physical play and got us on our heels. ... It's probably as hard a game as anybody's played in all year for both teams I would think. There was a demand there."

The Blues got power play goals from Matt D'Agostini in the first period and Steen in the second and led 2-0, but the Wings got a Nicklas Lidstrom goal late in the second period that seemed to lift Detroit's spirits. The Wings then got goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall 55 seconds apart midway through the third period, a period in which Detroit outshot the Blues 13-3.

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