Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blues lose Steen to injury

Forward sustained left hand injury Tuesday, will likely miss start of regular 
season, be re-evaluated in three weeks; tonight's lineup against Blue Jackets 

ST. LOUIS -- Another injury bug has hit the Blues.

Blues forward Alexander Steen is expected miss the start of the regular season after injuring his left hand in a 5-3 preseason loss at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

The Blues said Wednesday that Steen will miss the rest of the preseason and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. 

Blues coach Mike Yeo said the injury occurred when Steen took a slash behind the net.

"We knew on the bench right after it happened," Yeo said. "We saw it, first of all and then when he came back to the bench, we knew it was an issue. The trainer Ray (Barile) came down and talked to me and told me that it had happened, it was sore and he was going to give it another shot. Tough news."

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is also sidelined with a fractured left ankle and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Forward Zach Sanford will have surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder and will be out 5-6 months.

"It's been an interesting week in that regard," Yeo said. "A tough injury for sure (to Steen), but we'll move forward."

Steen, 33, is entering his 10th season with the Blues. He had 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 76 games last season, and seven points (three goals, four assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before St. Louis lost the Western Conference Second Round in six games to the Nashville Predators.

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The Blues will give two young players who played in Dallas a second look on consecutive nights.

Both Samuel Blais, who has a goal and assist last night, and Vince Dunn will be in the lineup when the Blues open the home portion of their preseason schedule against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. on and on HD radio on Y98 HD3).

"We kept a couple spots," Yeo said. "Initially, 'Bouw' ws going to play this game. Then when we knew he wasn't going to be available, we kept a couple spots open. We wanted to see what happened in the game last night. There were a couple other guys that were in the conversation to come into tonight, but we settled on these guys."

Blais will play on a line with Jaden Schwartz and newcomer Brayden Schenn will make his Blues debut. Dunn will partner on defense with Colton Parayko.

"I had a good chat with (Blais) this morning," Yeo said. "There's a lot of parts to his game that say NHL hockey player and there's some parts that are still saying American League hockey player. For me, I want to see the progress and development from now until the end of training camp. If he can continue to do that, a lot of the things that you're seeing with the puck have been very impressive. He's really put himself on the map here and in the conversation to push for a spot. But we'll see. I've said it before, the level's going to continue to go up. We saw that level went up last night and some guys had a tough time adjusting to it and it'll continue to go up. The ones that can make sure that they keep their head above water and keep rising with that level, they're the ones that give themselves the best chance.

"... (Dunn) was another guy I chatted with this morning. I thought there was some inconsistency to his game. Defensemen at this level, they have to play with a sense of control that they control the game and that's how they play with and without the puck. He's got a lot of wild moments. He's got a lot of really good moments and he's got some moments that he can rid of on the other side. I've seen a lot of progress from him. We were real happy with what we saw from him last year in Chicago. He's a guy that one game, two games is not going to seal his fate right now. We want to continue to see how he keeps pushing forward right now."

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Another skater making his debut tonight is 2017 fourth-round pick Alexey Toropchenko.

Yeo has been impressed with his game and what the 18-year-old has provided in training camp.

"He was not a high pick this year. For me, he's looking for a guy at 18 years old, he's been impressive," Yeo said. "Sometimes you're not getting those guys in games, and he's earned a spot into a game. I think that there's more depth from young players and more young players are pushing. What it does is it means those guys before were real long shots to make it and our development team does a good job developing those guys. It also puts a little bit more heat on those higher picks to make sure that they're holding their own because there's a lot more competition."

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Speaking of Schenn, Yeo has liked his camp as well.

"I think he's had a really good camp," Yeo said. "I'm excited to see him in some game action here. I think he's looked really good at center ice, which is huge for us right now. He's a character guy. You can tell as a coach he's going to be a fun guy to work with. and a leader for our group.

"He's moving well, he's skating well, he's picked up our systems very easily and he's got a very good presence on the ice with the puck. This will be good for him tonight."

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Yeo spoke about Robby Fabbri, who was expected to play in Dallas but was a late scratch; he did not make the trip.

Fabbri is coming off surgery on his left ACL and was held out as a precaution.

"We decided to keep him out last night; we figured lets give him a couple more days here," Yeo said. "We had this lineup (tonight) scheduled as it is, so we decided not to change it. I'd be very surprised if Robby didn't play in our upcoming weekend games. Obviously anything can change, but I'd be surprised."

Yeo was asked if there were any setbacks.

"No, no, no," Yeo insisted. "Like anything, when you're dealing with an injury like that, sometimes there's scar tissue, sometimes there's a little pain here and there but nothing that we didn't anticipate and we didn't expect."

Yeo said he'd like to get Fabbri a minimum of four preseason games.

"Getting five might be a stretch but four minimum," Yeo said. "Obviously that depends on how he's feeling and how things are going forward." 

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Blues president and CEO of business operations Chris Zimmerman spoke about tonight's game and how it would impact things regarding to the recent protests going on in downtown and the surrounding communities.

Zimmerman said it's important to "begin to move on" and there wasn't  consideration to cancel tonight's game because "we have a lot of people that depend on these jobs."

"For tonight's game, we've been obviously working with the St. Louis police and a number of other security partners and insuring that our fans are going to be confident and it's going to be safe to come down to the building," Zimmerman said. "As is often said, sharing all the resources that we have is probably not the appropriate thing, but there's significant focus in recognizing, particularly around the perimeter of the building as well as inside the building that we've got to be more conscious, sensitive and provide additional support. 

"We know we have the right numbers. We have more resources that we would typically have for a game, a regular preseason game. A lot of this is helping St. Louis get back to normalcy and get back to business as usual and we recognize that this is just a hockey game and this is just an opportunity for people to want another outlet to come together. Our efforts will all be focusing on creating the safest environment that we can."

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The Blues' lineup tonight:

Magnus Paajarvi-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Samuel Blais

Dmitrij Jaskin-Oskar Sundqvist-Beau Bennett

Alexey Toropchenko-Adam Musil-Chris Thorburn

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Vince Dunn-Colton Parayko

Chris Butler-Niko Mikkola

Jake Allen will start in goal and play the first two periods; Ville Husso will come on in relief and play the third period.

Extras: Dmitrii Sergeev, Ty Loney

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Columbus' lineup:

Forwards: Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson, Jordan Schroeder, Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Zac Dalpe, Joe Pendenza, Jordan Maletta, Paul Bittner, Justin Scott, Bobby MacIntyre, Calvin Thurkauf

Defensemen: Scott Harrington, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray, Brady Austin, Andre Benoit, Ryan Collins

Goalies: Brad Thiessen, Ivan Kulbakov

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