Monday, October 29, 2018


Allen day to day, Steen held off; Husso recalled; Fabbri, Gunnarsson, 
Soshnikov return from conditioning assignments; Barbashev's first fight

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It was a new look for the Blues as they hit the ice Monday at the Ice Zone.

From Saturday's injury to Jake Allen, to the recalls of four players from San Antonio of the American Hockey League, coach Mike Yeo was working in a new set of skaters before the Blues (3-4-3) play a meaningful game again on Thursday.

Goalie Jake Allen, who left Saturday's 7-3 win against Chicago with 1 minute 1 second left in the second period after colliding with teammate Zach Sanford after making a terrific save on Chicago's Brandon Saad, did not skate and is considered day to day with an undisclosed injury, presumably being monitored for concussion-related symptoms or some sort of neck injury.

"I don't have much of an update," Yeo said. "He's not on the ice today. I think he is feeling better. He got on the bike there this morning and we'll just see how he's doing tomorrow.

"In talking to Ray [Barile] this morning, it was Jake was not going on the ice. We were going to give him a bike ride and see how he goes with that."

Backup goalie Chad Johnson, who finished off Saturday's win stopping all five shots he faced, said he's prepared for the game Thursday when the Blues resume their season-long seven-game homestand against the Vegas Golden Knights.

"I go into kind of every day expecting to play," Johnson said. "I'm prepared for Thursday's game. ... I've worked hard and I've been in these kinds of situations. I've played a lot of games and done different roles, to tandems, to backing up and starting throughout a period of time throughout a season. I want to play and that's why we all play the game is to play it. I look forward to getting in there and trying to help the team get two points.

"... I talked to Jake this morning. He's feeling good. I think it's just day by day and I think everybody's going off how he feels."

As an insurance policy, the Blues recalled goalie Ville Husso from San Antonio, and he was able to arrive in St. Louis late Sunday night.

"I actually watched the game and I saw right away that something happened," Husso said. "Our AHL head coach [Jeff Bannister] text me. The plan was I was supposed to play yesterday and [Jordan] Binnington play yesterday and I was getting ready for here."

Husso said he is only here as long as the Blues need him, whether it be in the interim or for a while.

"They didn't say anything actually," Husso said. "I just focus every day in practice and go like day to day.

"Hopefully I will get some game time. I just need to be ready when the time comes. At the same time, I just need to enjoy it."

And what did Husso pack?

"Just a little bag," he said.

And if he's needed longer?

"Then I need to go buy some new stuff," he laughed.

Husso is 1-6-0 with a 3.19 goals-against average and .887 save percentage with the Rampage. Not exactly blowing up the stat sheet in a good way, but it's indicative of how things have gone as a team thus far with San Antonio's 2-8-0 record.

"A couple bad goals, but otherwise, there are little things good in my game," Husso said. "... It's just a part of the game. The team is not winning and goalies not have good numbers, but I feel comfortable right now."

Yeo said the Blues had the chance to see Husso and the rest of the Rampage play on their trip to Winnipeg when the Rampage played Winnipeg's farm team, the Manitoba Moose.

"We got to watch the one game," Yeo said. "He gave up four or five in Winnipeg and don't really feel like he gave up a bad goal. It was one of those games where maybe he didn't steal the game, but there were some big chances in that game and so I didn't leave that game feeling that he was bad, but probably not at the same level we saw in training camp. Sounds like his last outing was a good one. He didn't get the win, but it was a real unfortunate bounce that caused that. Sounds to be like things have been going the right way for the most part. But I'm also going off my memory of what he did in training camp and I was real happy with that.

"Well obviously with Jake out, we needed a goalie here. 'Huus' had a real good training camp. It's good that he's got a chance to come up and get this experience."

If Johnson does go Thursday, the Blues are prepared and confident.

"That's why we brought him here," Yeo said. "He's a guy that's got experience. I know he's hungry for that opportunity."

* Fabbri, Gunnarsson, Soshnikov back from conditioning assignments -- Forwards Robby Fabbri and Nikita Soshnikov and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson all returned the Blues Monday following conditioning assignments with the Rampage.

Fabbri played in three games and scored a shorthanded goal, Gunnarsson played in two games and was a plus-1 and Soshnikov had a goal in his five-game stint but all three appear ready to return at any time now.

"It's good and bad," Yeo said on the reports he got on the three. "First off, I think there was a lot of good, but I think sometimes those guys go down and I think they want to make sure they get called back up. That's in their mind. I don't want to say they're not fully invested, but it's they're down there with the intention of playing just those games and they get caught with half a mind of being up here. I think there was some good and some that probably wasn't quite as good as what they will be. But otherwise, everything else seems to be coming along. The timing's good, the conditioning's good, all that kind of stuff. I think in the end, it'll end up being real good for those guys."

Fabbri, who hasn't played in an NHL regular-season game since initially tearing the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 4, 2017, has a shot and realistic chance at making his long-awaited return.

"Yeah, I feel I'm ready now and it's up to the coaches," Fabbri said. "I played a lot down there, about 19 minutes a game. I felt good after the games, which was nice to get through. I got that out of my head after that I can play a game and not feel sore after. Felt good again today at practice."

I would say he's definitely an option," Yeo said of Fabbri. "That's a decision we have to make now."

One of those decisions was made to clear a roster spot when the Blues assigned Jordan Kyrou to the Rampage late Monday afternoon.

Kyrou had one assist in in nine games and was a minus-3 but did not need waivers to be sent down.

There is a realistic chance for Gunnarsson and Soshnikov to be cleared as well.

"We've got to get through the week and see how they respond to practice and all that stuff," Yeo said. "But obviously they're getting close, let's put it that way."

Fabbri was skating on a line Monday with Tyler Bozak and Pat Maroon in place of Alexander Steen, who did not practice and afterwards, Yeo said Steen had some neck tightness and they just decided to hold him off the ice.

Fabbri has been dealing with general soreness related to getting his hockey conditioning up to speed, and injuries included a sore back, sore hip and Grade 1 groin strain.

But the knee is holding up perfectly well after two surgeries and there are no mental issues there.

"I've been at that point for a while," Fabbri said. "Coming in, my knees were never the problem. I've felt good with my knees for a while. It was just the little soft tissue stuff and getting back into the game-like situations. The knees feel good."

* Barbashev the "barbed wire" -- Blues forward Ivan Barbashev was front and center inside the Blues locker room Monday with media members talking about his first NHL fight with Chicago's Brent Seabrook.

It came with 1:22 remaining in the game when Seabrook gave Barbashev a slash after the Blues' forward gave the Blackhawks defenseman a pop heading up the ice.

Barbashev took exception to the slash and got in a couple lefts with one of the linesmen trying to break up any full-blown tilt.

"I kind of hit him and then I just got a slash," Barbashev said. "I just saw he was coming at me and I just kind of lost my mind out there.

"I didn't know (he left hand) was that fast."

Barbashev said he got a number of high-fives from teammates for sticking up for himself, and doing so against a veteran player.

"They probably didn't expect that from me, but everyone was really excited about it," Barbashev said. "I got a lot of high fives after the game.

Especially when you play against the Blackhawks, especially at home and in front of our fans, it was a good thing to do."

Yeo said Barbashev is more consistent when he makes his physical presence more felt.

"I feel like it's been more consistent," Yeo said. "I always felt when he was playing his best hockey, he was playing physical, he was finishing checks, he was competitive in his battles and when that starts to slip, I find his game starts to slip. But what I would say is that he's doing that more consistently now. I think he's got a better picture of what his best game looks like and a better picture of how to get to it."

"I would say like my last couple games was not the best, but I thought the game against Chicago was pretty good," said Barbashev, who last fought two years ago with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL two seasons ago and got in three fights in the QMJHL. "I played physical and with that situation at the end, it's probably just going to help me. I feel more confident out there."

* Four days to prep -- For the second time in October, the Blues will have four days between games.

It's not ideal; they'd prefer the extra time off in February or even in March, but with no game until Thursday, the Blues are using this week accordingly.

"Today was a work day," Yeo said. "There was a lot of conditioning built into the practice today, a lot of execution built into the practice today. That was the focus for today. Tomorrow, likely what we'll do is some guys will probably need off-ice work and we'll get them that, some guys need to go on the ice and they'll do skill work, and then we'll have a real competitive team focused practice on Wednesday. It's tough to just have three practices three days in a row just because at the end of that mentally you're just kind of fried and you're stale going into your game. We want to make sure we build up to it. This is the focus we've got this week."

Today's lineup looked like this:





Kyrou and Sundqvist were the extra forwards before Kyrou was sent down





Johnson and Husso

Allen and Steen did not participate in practice, and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is out of the lineup for another week or so with a lower-body injury.

No comments:

Post a Comment