Saturday, September 15, 2018


Allen could return sooner than expected; Yeo unimpressed with 
Saturday scrimmage; Sergeev waived after reporting to camp out of shape

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Yeo said Friday he wasn't concerned about it, and when Jake Allen walked up to the podium without issue Saturday at Enterprise Center after being diagnosed with back spasms on Thursday, it pretty much solidified the Blues coach's lack of worry.

Allen was originally supposed to miss 10-14 days after injuring his back off ice following a day of training last week, but the Blues' goalie said he could return sooner than expected.

"It's looking like I'll be on the ice earlier than that," Allen said before the Blues' camp scrimmage. "We'll just see how it goes. Following the doctor's orders. It's been pretty significant progress over the last two days."

Allen, who goes into the season as the No. 1 goalie, injured himself after a longer day of training and is dealing with the back issue for the first time.

"Just early last week. I wasn't on the ice. Just sort of got me a little bit tired at the end of the day in the gym," Allen said. "It's progressed way better than when it first happened, a lot better than I thought it was. I'm feeling really good right now to be honest. I've made some significant progress the last couple days.

"It was just at the end of the day, long day, skate, work out, just got a little bit over-tired and it just sort of hit me. I never had a back issue before, so it was all new to me."

If the injury would have kept him out two weeks, it would have given Allen one week to prepare for the regular-season opener Oct. 4 against the Winnipeg Jets. It looks like Allen will get the allotted games he deems necessary, but missing the first few preseason games isn't a concern.

"I think this is my 10th or 11th camp now, which is crazy to say," Allen said. "For me, it's more getting in the rhythm of things. The first couple games, usually I might play a period, two periods. I don't think I'm really missing too much by missing the first couple games. Two to three games for me, seven to nine periods over a total of all of the camp should work for me. As long as I keep my practice habits up and just prepare physically and mentally, I think if you ask most of the guys, two and a half to three games, that's probably enough for anyone, especially with the length of the season that we have."

"... That's my goal; no question. Not these first couple games, no doubt, but more or less I'll probably focus on the last three games and really strive to get in all three of those games. ... I don't think this is anything to panic about. Just making sure it's something that doesn't linger on into the season, taking care of it in the proper manner. If this was during the season, it would be a different story. I don't know if I'd be out that long. I would probably find a way to be able to get back in the net and play. This is just to make sure that this goes away and we take care of it in the right way."

* Yeo unimpressed -- Yeo watched from above the scrimmage Saturday between Group A and Group B, won by Group A 4-0.

Jaden Schwartz scored twice, Alexander Steen and Mackenzie MacEachern scored goals for Group A, but Yeo said it was not the kind of scrimmage he was looking for.

"I thought some guys showed well in the scrimmage; some guys played well, but overall, I wasn't real pleased with the scrimmage," Yeo said. "There was a little bit of a glorified summer skate, so we talked to the players about that. We'd like to see a little more intensity and a little more detail in our game [Sunday]."

Line combinations at Friday's opening of camp didn't change, and among the threesomes skating were Pat Maroon, Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, who Yeo is giving a hard look to perhaps start the season with. They were on the shutout end of the score today, and according to Maroon, the line looked rusty.

"I think we'll figure it out here moving forward," Maroon said. "We're veteran players that know how to play the game, know how to structurally be in the right place at the right time. We're all three smart players, so hopefully we can find our game right away.

"... I like the possibilities. Hopefully we can find some chemistry here in the scrimmages and obviously in the preseason games to keep building our game." 

Yeo said he'll look at the trio again Sunday, but he also said to not read into if lines get shuffled around and if they remain the same. Nothing is etched in stone.

Schwartz played with Brayden Schenn and David Perron; Steen played with Tyler Bozak and Sammy Blais; Robby Fabbri skated with Robert Thomas and Dmitrij Jaskin; Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev and Jordan Kyrou made up a younger line, among the notable pairings. 

On defense, Joel Edmundson and Alex Pietrangelo skated together, as did Vince Dunn and Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Schmaltz, Jake Walman and Robert Bortuzzo among the notable D pairs.

Carl Gunnarsson, coming off ACL surgery on his left knee near the end of last season, did not participate in the scrimmage, and Yeo said that would be by design, but he did skate in Group A's practice after the scrimmage.

* Sergeev waived -- Defensive prospect Dmitrii Sergeev, who was assigned to the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Friday after Mike Yeo described the 22-year-old as not meeting the requirements of coming into training camp in shape, was placed on waivers Saturday for the purpose of terminating his contract.

Sergeev, signed as a free agent in 2014, spent last season with the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL and was on the camp roster, but was not on the ice for the opening on Friday.

The tone in Yeo's voice told a picture of the organization not thrilled with the outcome, and Sergeev has one year remaining on his entry-level contract that pays him $650,000 NHL/$55,000 minor salary.

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