Berglund cleared for contact; Brodziak close to return; Allen against Predators
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Patrik Berglund continues to trek in the right direction.
The Blues' forward, who has missed the entire season following shoulder surgery on Aug. 28, took part in another practice session, an optional, but the next step -- a pivotal one -- has been set in motion: Berglund has been cleared for contact.
Fourteen skaters too part in Monday's skate, and Berglund was among them whipping around and bumping into teammates.
"I asked 'Reavo' to run me over today, but he was going pretty soft on me," Berglund joked, referring to teammate Ryan Reaves.
"The next step is for me to kind of be ready, conditioning-wise and obviously strength-wise," Berglund added. "That's where we are right now. I'm still rehabbing, I'm still doing heavy lifting in the gym to get my strength up. When that feels good, that's when I think it's time to play."
Berglund's initial timeline was for reevaluation in four months and we're at the four-month marker now.
"I think the next step is more endurance, see where he's at," coach Ken Hitchcock said of Berglund. "He has a schedule, we have a schedule; hasn't changed.
"Early in the New Year, we're anticipating him getting ready to play. This is the fourth day now of some people leaning on him and today he took a lot of one-on-one, two-on-two contact, so that's a good step. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. If he feels fine tomorrow, then we'll just amp it up into a normal player status and see from there."
Berglund wants to really get out into a full practice and be able to take the physical toll and see how the shoulder reacts.
"It feels pretty good," Berglund said. "We haven't had many skates. It's been more pregame skates and not a lot happening. A few more practices like this and we'll see when they think I'm ready and when I think I'm ready."
* Brodziak close -- Center Kyle Brodziak is on the cusp of returning to the lineup, perhaps as soon as Tuesday when the Blues (22-12-4) host the Nashville Predators for the second time in 13 days; the Blues, who are 2-0-0 against Nashville this season, won that game 2-1 on third-period goals by David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Brodziak, who was injured the past time these teams met when he sustained an inadvertent skate cut in the second period from defenseman Seth Jones, has missed five games but began practicing past week. He was on the ice Monday.
"Better, a lot better," Brodziak said when asked how he felt. "I tried skating a few days ago. It still wasn't feeling great, but today was a step in the right direction and now just have to wait and see how it reacts.
"... It was more than just a cut. I had to go get an MRI and found some other stuff going on. The range of motion wasn't great, strength around the area wasn't great. That's why it's kind of taken longer than we first hoped and thought."
Brodziak, who centers the Blues' fourth line, finished that game after getting stitched up but said he was sore that night after going home.
"When you get a cut, you kind of feel almost like a hot sensation and then I looked down and saw a cut in my sock so I kind of figured something might be going on," Brodziak said. "I just went to the bench and had a look and saw a pretty good cut.
"I had to finish the shift obviously. They were in our end. At the time, you don't really feel it took bad until later on in the night. I got stitched up and played the third. That night is when it stiffened up quite a bit. I was a pretty sore. That night was pretty bad, and then the next few days after was pretty sore."
The Blues have used a makeshift fourth line since losing Brodziak and Steve Ott (hamstring) but would welcome Brodziak's return for a plethora of reasons.
"Obviously secondary faceoffs on that side of the ice, killing penalties," Hitchcock said. "He was playing good for us. Where he's really good is in our own zone. He's really competitive in our own zone. He gets pucks out, hard to play against, he can really lean on people. He's a really competitive guy. It's the identity of what you want in your fourth line. He provided that for us and gave us that good direction. We'll be really happy to get him back in.
"I think he's close to being assessed to play. ... He went full go today, he said he felt good and we'll see for him in the morning. Hopefully we can get him up and running and get him ready to play. If not tomorrow, then we'll get him ready for the next game."
The Blues are 3-2-0 with Brodziak, who has been listed as day-to-day, out of the lineup.
"I'm not sure what the plan is yet for tomorrow," Brozdiak said. "I'm going to wait and see the rest of the day how it reacts and see how it feels in the morning. Hopefully things are going well. It'll be a coaching decision after that."
* Allen back in goal -- Blues goalie Jake Allen will play against the Predators, who he's beaten twice this season.
After Brian Elliott was sparkling in a 3-0 loss at Dallas Sunday in which the Blues' netminder made 35 saves and gave his team a chance, Allen will face a team he made a career-high 45 saves against in a 4-0 win on Nov. 7 and has stopped 72 of 73 Nashville shots.
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