Monday, September 18, 2017

Steen heathy again, wants to be factor this season

Veteran forward coming off broken toe sustained in playoff series against Wild

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- If you're a fan of the Blues and you've seen Alexander Steen's smile on the ice in the first few days of training camp, there's a good reason.

The simplest things can be reason to feel good, and for a hockey player, putting on the skates pain-free and just taking a twirl on the ice is enough reason to be happy.

The last time Steen, 33, was in competition for the Blues for keeps, it was during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in May. It was also one of the most painful times for Steen, who played the entire postseason with a broken big toe on his left foot.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alexander Steen played virtually the entire postseason last year with a
broken foot, is healthy again.

But he's back twirling around at the Ice Zone again, free and clear of pain, healthy, married (Josefine) in Sweden over the summer and reinvigorated.

"It's been good. It's been energetic," Steen said of camp. "Seems like everyone's excited to be back.

"It took a while after the year, but I got back to training about a month and a half into the summer. I feel good, I feel energized and ready to go."

Steen, who had 16 goals and 35 assists in 76 regular-season games, delivered another seven points (three goals, four assists) in 10 postseason games, but just to get ready for each game was a challenge in itself.

After injuring his foot in Game 1 of the Western Conference first round series against the Minnesota Wild, Steen was a broken skater.

After the game, there was a definitely limp in the locker room but not one to confirm that he was hurt. It got progressively worse and Steen was to the point where he was taking injections to numb the foot in order to get his skate on and be able to play. Only once did the throbbing, searing pain get the best of him, Game 5 of the second round series against the Nashville Predators.

Taking injections on gamedays was a chore in itself.

"It's weird. You just take it sort of day by day," Steen said. "I knew that our off-days are the days we weren't playing, I was not going to be able to aggravate it and get some rest on it. Gamedays were the days where you got up in the morning and you knew you had to get ready and prepare your mind. But it was good. The doctors were great in helping me out as much as they could. The team was great, too. The team pushed together and we had a really good vibe going, a good push in our group and played a tough Nashville team and they got the best of us."

Steen wasn't wallowing in his pain, which could have been very easy to do.

According to a former player who experienced a similar injury, he said the injections to the foot are some of the most painful experiences one could imagine. And Steen had to do it at least 10 times.

But now the pain is gone, and this cagy veteran said the patience paid off before feeling good again.

"It took about close to two months," Steen said. "I'd say six weeks, eight weeks, somewhere in there. I was able to really start pushing again. 

"I've had a good summer. It's been productive and last summer, the shoulder obviously took a lot of the summer and preparations, I was hopeful of making it to the World Cup and trying to push for that deadline. There was a lot of focus specifically on that shoulder. That feels great, and now this summer, when I took that little time to heal up, I felt like I had a good summer of getting everything ready."

Ready for a new season, one in which Steen is anxiously looking forward to after helping the Blues transition to a new coach with Mike Yeo taking over for Ken Hitchcock midseason.

"I like our group, I like our moves," Steen said. "Obviously we've made some changes this summer. Our young guys have gotten a year older, a little more experienced. Our goaltending's so solid. The way that the system that we started playing from February on was a big change even though it was small details that happened. I'm obviously excited to get going. Big key is early starts to the year. You want to get off to a good start and start feeling good about your game. Last year was pretty much the opposite. We got off to a rough start, were almost playing catch-up there for a while and then came together and really grew the second half of the year. I was really impressed how we played in the second half. Now's a new year and we want to get off to a great start.

"... 'Schenner's' (Brayden Schenn) going to come in, I like the style of game he plays. It fits in very well with the type of game that we want to play. Thors, same thing thing. Perfect guy for us. We've gotten to know him a little bit before camp; he showed up a few weeks early. They're going to be great fits for the club."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward Alexander Steen battles for a loose puck against a Toronto
skater last sesaon. 

Adding an influx of youth to go with the veteran players make the Blues a darkhorse in the Western Conference. They'll have to take a wait-and-see approach but in doing do, there's encouragement is to have fun.

"The biggest thing is for them to enjoy these moments when you get to play and practice at this level and push yourself but also to see the pace. "I if we're able to push them pace-wise so that they understand where we're at and where they need to get to. The young guys are great. I haven't watched the other group as much, but our group has been good, have been on pace the whole time. It's been good.

"You see how the young guy have developed over the years when they come into camp in shape and everything. They're 18-22 and they all look like they're ready to go. They definitely push us veterans."

At this point, if it means being on the ice, Steen wouldn't mind being poked and prodded.

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