Monday, October 26, 2015


Fabbri, Upshall to return, Shattenkirk ruled out Tuesday; Allen to start, Elliott sick

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Forwards Robby Fabbri and Scottie Upshall will return to on Tuesday but defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will not when the Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Shattenkirk, who has missed five games with a lower-body injury, was expected to rejoin the lineup against the Lightning after taking part in another full practice with the team at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Outlet Mall but isn't quite ready.

"I was shooting for tomorrow, but it doesn't look like it's going to be a possibility," Shattenkirk said. "I think we (wanted) to see how it (went) today and see how it responds in the morning and maybe try it out in the morning skate if it feels any better.

"We're getting there. I think it's been improving since the injury a lot. These opportunities to skate with the team and have full practices, high-tempo practices for me are what I need most right now. They're improving each time. I'm hoping that it's soon I'm going to see the lineup and get back out there with the guys. ... Friday was a good practice, good team practice and then today was a hard, high-tempo practice. I think my mindset going into it was I have to push it as hard as I can to really feel if it's ready. It's still a little feeling of it in there, so it's not there yet unfortunately, but hopefully it keeps improving as the week goes along."

Shattenkirk said he felt the injury the day before the Blues faced the Calgary Flames on Oct. 13 but was good enough to play in that game. He departed in the second period and did not return.

"It happened the day before in practice," Shattenkirk said. "There was just a little tightness because we flew all day and then we got on the ice and skated. It was just tight and I got off the ice early enough where anything drastic happened. We did everything we needed to do for the game and it felt great all game until that one play. I just tried to join the rush and I felt it go a little bit. It really was just that one play where I really just tried to jump into the rush and whatever happened, it went. It was tough."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said the team will leave it in Shattenkirk's hands now. 

"It's really Shatty's call now," Hitchcock said. "He felt he wasn't ready, so wait another day or so.

"We worked it out pretty hard today, but he's not ready to go." 

Fabbri, who has missed the past six games with concussion-like symptoms following a hit from former Blue Chris Porter, was cleared to play by team doctors and will rejoin.

"Fabbri is and he'll get in," Hitchcock said, who expects to get back the "same guy we've had; he's a pretty consistent player. He's a young guy, pretty dynamic. Saw that at practice today. There's two or three things he did at practice today ... he's an awfully dynamic guy. He's going to add a high level of energy to us."

Upshall missed Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders after becoming sick late in the day. He took part in the morning skate that day and expected to be playing in a top-six role.

"I got to the rink and I just wasn't feeling very good," Upshall said. "Right before our team meeting, I started feeling sick and got sick. ... I've been sick before obviously and  played through a lot of moments, but it was ugly. ... A brutal illness where you're putting yourself in harm's way getting out there. I just felt really bad. I had some friends that were in town and were there. My first game at home, really looking forward to that. It was unfortunate, 6 o'clock and I felt like death. Terrible timing.

"Today was good. I felt good 12 hours later. I don't know what it was, if it was a big or something I ate. I'm back to normal now, I ate, I had a good practice. Back to getting at it, playing hard."

* Elliott sick -- Blues goalie Brian Elliott did not practice Monday with what Hitchcock called the "flu."

Elliott stopped 19 shots in the overtime loss to drop to 4-0-1.

"He's got the flu like a few other guys have had, so he was out today," Hitchcock said of Elliott. "We're hopeful that he's back tomorrow."

Elliott will not play Tuesday; Jake Allen will get the nod against the Lightning, who was playing the fourth game of their current road trip. They are 1-0-2.

"He's been OK," Hitchcock said of Allen's play. "I think we're expecting better, he's expecting better and we'll probably get better. Playing every second day starting tomorrow, so both of those guys will get good tests against good teams. He's had some tough assignments, but I think he'd be the first to admit that he can play a little bit better. It's still early in the year and we're hoping to get it."

* Faceoff issues -- The Blues were tied for fifth (52.8 percent) in faceoff percentage going into Monday. That's no surprise since the Blues have predominantly been a good faceoff group the past couple seasons.

But in the past three games, particularly in the first period, it has been an issue.

The Blues lost 15 of 20 faceoffs against the Islanders and in doing so, were not at their best. Especially being a strong puck-possession team, the Blues spent much of the first period trying to retrieve it. It was a problem in previous games at Montreal and Winnipeg before recovering well.

"For whatever reason, we're not engaged in the 50-50 pucks," Hitchcock said. "We're losing a lot of 50-50's. The scramble faceoffs, we lose, and then in the second and third, we get a little bit angry or the coach gets a little angry and we start winning them all. We've had three games in a row where we've been poor in the first period and excellent in the second and third. We addressed that and we're going to see if we can get better there."

* Hitchcock humor -- Hitchcock was asked his opinion of the new 3-on-3 overtime format. His answer:

"Anything that decides the game without a shootout, I'm all for," he said. "Would I like to keep playing 5-on-5, but you guys would have a tough time on deadline? Yeah. But anything that decides it other than the shootout, I'm all for."

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