Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Steen decision to be made after skate Wednesday; 
Blues-Blackhawks rivalry continues; Blais moves up to top line

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The suspense of whether Alexander Steen will make his season debut Wednesday will live another day.

Steen, out since Sept. 19 with a broken left hand sustained in a preseason game against the Dallas Stars from a shash by Stars winger Antoine Roussel, was on the ice for a second practice day with his teammates and made it through the 45-minute session from start to finish.

Steen, who's been on the ice multiple weeks now keeping up his cardio fitness, could make his season debut Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks at home but coach Mike Yeo wasn't divulging.

"He's getting close, good progress again today," Yeo said after practice Tuesday. "We'll have the skate tomorrow morning and see where he's at. 

"I'm not going to rule him in, not going to rule him out right now."

Steen was skating with extra forwards Chris Thorburn and Wade Megan during line rushes Tuesday.

"Another skate tomorrow and again, it's good progress today and we'll see how it is in the morning," Yeo said.

Steen was unavailable for comment.

* Blues-Blackhawks rivalry continues -- The Blues (4-2-0) and Blackhawks (4-1-1) might as well get their kicks at each other in on Wednesday because after that, they shockingly won't play again against each other until March 18 in Chicago.

The Central Division opponents are on the short end this season of four matchups, including a home-and-home April 4 and 6.

"You always get up for games like this and we have to because we know that they'll be up for it," Yeo said. "We know that if you're not ready to play, then you get embarassed against a team like this. We'll have to be on top of our game, but the rivalry games are always fin to play. They're fun to go out there and compete, they're intense, they're physical and obviously there's a lot of hatred on the ice. It brings out the best in everybody. 

"I don't think they like us and we don't like them. When they come out on top, I think that they enjoy every minute of it, and I know we do on the flip side of things."

"It seems they always bring out the best in us and vice verse," Blues center Paul Stastny said. "Being gone for a while and now being back at home and having the crowd with us will be fun. There will be a lot of Chicago fans there, so that always makes it a little more intense."

Yeo said he's watched from afar what games between the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs mean and feels they carry over to the ice as well.

"I've watched a few baseball games and I think I picked up on it there," he said. "I can see why it's a big rivalry and it's fun to be a part of. I think that's what made the Winter Classic last year so special. It was a great event and it was a perfect rivalry with two good hockey towns. 

"We want to make it up to be what it is, and that's a rivalry game, a big game, a division game against a team that we expect to be battling with all year long. At the same token, we have to just make sure we're ready to play. It's something that we should gear up for, but there's no reason why we should not gear up for every game and make sure that we play physical, make sure that we play strong on our game and that's what we have to do tomorrow."

* Blais moves up -- Blues rookie Samuel Blais was working on the top line with Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko at practice on Tuesday.

Blais, who made his NHL debut Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, played with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn in that game but worked with Stastny and Tarasenko early in training camp.

"I played maybe first four days with them," Blais said. "... If I'm playing with them tomorrow, it's a great opportunity for me. I've just got to make the most of it and just play my game. They're really good players and they're going to help me a lot on the ice. I've just got to do my job.

"I've just got to bring some of my offensive game. If I can do that, I'll have some good chances."

Tuesday's practice lines:

Samuel Blais-Paul Stastny-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Sobotka

Magnus Paajarvi-Ivan Barbashev-Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall-Oskar Sundqvist-Kyle Brodziak

extras: Alexander Steen, Wade Megan, Chris Thorburn

Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo

Joel Edmundson-Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo

extra: Nate Prosser

* Streak stopper -- The Blues, after starting the season 4-0-0, have dropped two in a row in Florida and used the past two days to eliminate some of the troubles they had against the Florida Panthers and Lightning.

"I think we've done a couple things," Yeo said. "Obviously we looked at some video there. Some of it was battle, some of it was pace, some of it was execution and detail-wise, I think we were able to get a few things in there, too. I think that the couple days in between here and a day of rest coming out of a stretch where we played five games in eight days, I'm excited to see the energy level that we bring into the game tomorrow."

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