By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Allen made an appearance on the ice with teammates after sustaining back spasms last week, getting out on the ice sooner than expected.
Allen was originally scheduled to miss 10-14 days after injuring his back during off-ice training but not feels he could be ready to play as early as Sunday in the fourth preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"I'm just taking it a little slow right now," Allen said. "Nothing crazy. Obviously it was just a short morning skate, but just get out and take a few shots. More or less practice speed.
"I haven't had a group skate since Sept. 1st, so it's been a while. So it's really going to be more or less timing and getting my feet back under myself before we get really going here."
Allen has skated on his own before everyone else, just getting pads on and going through some sort of a routine, but, "that was the first time getting some shots and stuff.
"I feel like I'm progressing well. I'm not the expert here. I'm sort of going by what my body is telling me and I'm relaying it to the therapist and going from there. We're trying to kill this thing before the season starts. I don't want this thing to be a nagging thing for me throughout the year."
Blues coach Mike Yeo calls it good news.
"He took some shots and getting loosened up, so it's a good sign," Yeo said. "We didn't anticipate him not being able to get on the ice for a long period of time, so it was good to get him back out there."
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On some other injury-related news, defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who will be in the game group for the preseason opener tonight in Dallas but not play, said along with the ACL surgery he had on his left knee, he also had surgery on his right hip.
Gunnarsson said the hip was something that began to ail him before injuring his knee March 23 against the Vancouver Canucks.
"When the knee happened, we decided to check out the hip and make sure everything was OK," Gunnarsson said. "At the end of the day, thought it was a good thing to get both done. Timeline would kind of be the same and recovery time. Here we are. Instead of just dealing with the hip all of this year too and maybe get it done next year, we opted to do them both."
Gunnarsson is hopeful of being ready for the regular-season opener Oct. 4 against the Winnipeg Jets, but Yeo said it's still too soon to determine that.
"I'd say it's still up in the air," Yeo said. "To be ready for the opener when we've got others playing in games and the exhibition or what-not, I think that probably moves them a little further ahead. We'll see. Not ruling anything out yet, but obviously until you get cleared to play in a game, then it's pretty tough to envision that. But I don't know, I don't have the answer to that yet."
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo underwent an MRI Tuesday from a lower-body injury that kept him out of the second half of practice Monday, but Yeo said everything checked out fine. Bortuzzo will not play in the first two preseason games.
"We did an MRI on 'Borts' just to make sure everything's OK," Yeo said. "He cleared that, everything is good, but having to do that MRI means he's going to take a few days off the ice. He's another guy that won't play in that game tomorrow."
Forward David Perron, who also left practice early Monday with an undisclosed injury, could play Wednesday in Des Moines, Iowa against the Minnesota Wild.
"I think he's a possibility, yeah," Yeo said. "We'll have to see how he feels tomorrow, but I'm expecting him to play. We have a plan in place in case that doesn't happen, but we're certainly hopeful hat he'll get in."
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The Blues trimmed their camp roster by one when they assigned goalie Joel Hofer Swift Current of the Western Hockey League
The 18-year-old Hofer picked by the Blues in the fourth round (No. 107) of the 2018 NHL Draft.
Last season, Hofer played in 19 regular season games with the Broncos and posted an 8-3-1 record with a 2.61 goals-against average and .914 save-percentage; he played in two postseason games and helped the Broncos win the WHL Championship.
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The Blues will drop the puck tonight on their preseason schedule when they play the first of back-to-back road games against the Dallas Stars.
The Blues and Stars will play at 7:30 p.m. and the Blues will take with them a mixed veteran and younger lineup with Yeo looking to see who can make the grade.
"We're looking to grow everybody's game," Yeo said. "We're looking for guys to grow their game from an individual standpoint, whether it's the timing, the skill or the identity. The pressure that they can imply into a game by playing through their own identity. We're looking for growth in our team game, the systems, the tactics, those kinds of things. You're looking for conditioning, you're looking for pace, execution, all that kind of stuff. Biggest thing for me, I'm looking for competitiveness. I want to see guys that want to win hockey games, doesn't matter if it's exhibition, doesn't matter if it's Game 33 of the regular season. I want to see guys that want to win hockey games, and that means doing things to win hockey games. Everybody wants to score goals, and that's great. Some guys need to score goals of they want to have a chance to make our team and some guys don't. Some guys need to kill penalties, some guys need to block shots, some guys need to be physical. Whatever it is, make sure you're bringing something and show us that we need that element."
The Blues' projected lineup:
Patrick Maroon-Ryan O'Reilly-Jordan Kyrou
Zach Sanford-Robert Thomas-Dmitrij Jaskin
Mackenzie MacEachern-Oskar Sundqvist-Brian Flynn
Nolan Stevens-Trevor Smith-Jordan Nolan
Vince Dunn-Colton Parayko
Chris Butler-Jordan Schmaltz
Tyler Wotherspoon-Joey Laleggia
extras: Conner Bleackley, Carl Gunnarsson
Chad Johnson will start in goal and play the first two periods; Jordan Binnington back up and play the third period.
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The Stars' projected lineup:
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Valeri Nichushkin
Jason Dickinson-Roope Hintz-Brett Ritchie
Nick Caamano-Ty Dellandrea-Jason Robertson
Miro Heiskanen-John Klingberg
Esa Lindell-Julius Honka
Gavin Bayreuther-Roman Polak
Ben Bishop will start in goal; Landon Bow will be the backup.