Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Allen skates, status up in the air for Thursday; Fabbri, Gunnarsson, Soshnikov 
inching closer; Jerabek on waivers; Yeo on Kyrou being sent down

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Jake Allen was not on the ice with his teammates for a second straight day Tuesday, but it doesn't mean he was off the ice at all.

Allen did get on the ice at the Ice Zone Tuesday but on his own, a day after getting in some exercise on the bike just days after being removed late in the second period from a 7-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday following a collision with teammate Zach Sanford.

Ville Husso was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Monday and was on the ice with Chad Johnson for a second straight day, as the Blues prepare for their next game Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

It's still not been decided if Allen will be deemed ready to play Thursday, but a full practice on Wednesday will be a good indication of whether he is and if he's even a part of it.

"He was on the ice today. Felt pretty good, so it was a good day," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of Allen. "It was a good step anyways. He's feeling better today and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

* Fabbri, Gunnarsson, Soshnikov on the cusp -- Forwards Robby Fabbri and Nikita Soshnikov and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson are realistic possibilities to each make their season debut on Thursday against Vegas.

All three were on the ice for a fairly populated optional practice and got in a good day of skill work.

Fabbri, who went down to San Antonio on a three-game conditioning stint, has not played in a regular-season NHL game since initially tearing the ACL in his left knee on Feb. 4, 2017 against Pittsburgh.

"I think what we have to find out here is how close is he to 100 percent," Yeo said of Fabbri. "His hundred percent for me is pretty high. That's a pretty high level. That's going back to a level that I saw him play at two years ago. I think that he was showing glimpses of it in training camp and understandably, he shouldn't be there yet. That's pretty high level and he's had to deal with an awful lot. I think that he's made a lot of progress, I think that conditioning-wise, strength-wise, he's in a better spot now than he was at the start of camp. I think that's going to give him a better chance to stay in the lineup when he gets into it. But there's certain things he has that you can't teach. Time away from the rink, not playing hockey games, that has an affect on you, but there's certain qualities that he has, whether it's his skill level, his tenacity that had me excited as a coach that he can get back to that level quickly.

"I would say that we'll use tomorrow's practice as a bit of a gauge for that, yes. Tomorrow's practice is going to be high tempo, there's going to be some battle in there, there's going to be a good opportunity for those guys to get back into the speed and pace and combat level of the NHL."

Gunnarsson, coming off a torn left ACL of his own and a right hip ailment that also required surgery, played in two games with the Rampage and said he feels good enough to go.

"That was the last kind of speed, get to game speed and all that, so a good test, and two pretty good games," Gunnarsson said. "That was the last test, it held up well, I feel good, so green light now it's just up to the coaches.

"It's been a long time, practicing, seeing the boys go out there playing games. Just kind of been waiting for it for a long time, it's time to hopefully come back soon."

The Blues placed defenseman Jakub Jerabek on waivers Tuesday, likely to create a roster spot to activate Gunnarsson off injured reserve.

"We'll talk to [Gunnarsson] here again today, but him going down having the conditioning assignment, that was a good step," Yeo said. "I'd like to get him into a good, hard practice tomorrow. A lot of 5 on 5 work, a lot of team work and see how he's doing after that."

* Kyrou's assignment not performance-based -- Jordan Kyrou's assignment to the Rampage on Monday was not because of poor performance, according to Yeo.

"No, not at all. Not at all," Yeo said. "Obviously we still have 14 forwards on our roster right now. With the play of a lot of our guys up front right now, it's hard to find more opportunity for him. This is a good chance for him to go down and gain some experience, gain some confidence, gain some ice time and just keep moving himself along and keep pushing himself forward."

The Blues are going to need roster space with Fabbri and Soshnikov on the horizon, and with Kyrou, who did not require waivers in order for the 35th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft go down, he was a logical choice.

Plus, add in the fact that Kyrou, who had one assist in nine games this season, can go to the Rampage and get a higher volume of minutes than the 8:29, 7:03 and 7:01 he got in his past three games.

"We want him to be an NHL player, but we want him to maximize his potential and a big part of that for young players, if they're not getting the ice time, they're not getting the confidence up here, we want them developing into a high-powered offensive player," Yeo said. "Sometimes guys need to shoot pucks in the net and create and make plays, so he'll get a chance to do that.

"... He feels like it's a demotion and of course, that's understandable. But there's a lot of positives for him coming into camp, making the team out of training camp when he wasn't expected to. That was a win for him the way that he's performed and played. The confidence that he's gained from us as a coaching staff, that was a win for him. Obviously we've got a healthy group now, it's tough, we have to make some decisions and he finds himself going down, but he's got to go down with a positive attitude and in my eyes, he's much further along than probably what I expected him to be at this point in his career. Just real excited about his potential and what he's going to do for us in his future. We don't know when that is, but just make sure that y you're ready, make sure that you take advantage of your time down there, go down, dominate, get lots of ice time and get lots of confidence."

* Steen returns -- Forward Alexander Steen was back on the ice Tuesday after skipping out on Monday's full practice with what Yeo called neck tightness.

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