Friday, January 11, 2019


Thomas to miss time, joining Bozak, Steen 
on shelf; Steen will travel; Blues hit the road

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- As expected, Blues rookie forward Robert Thomas will miss some time.

Thomas was injured midway through the first period of a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens with what interim coach Craig Berube called an upper-body injury, but Thomas injured his left shoulder crashing into the offensive zone boards.

Thomas, who scored a power-play goal 1 minute 56 seconds into the game, has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 37 games this season and has really been coming into his own.

"He'll be out for a little bit, upper body. Won't be available on this trip," Berube said. "Yeah, it is (a tough blow). It's a tough blow for the team too because he's an important player on our team. He was coming around, he was getting more ice, power play time, scored a power-play goal. It's unfortunate that happened."

Thomas joins veteran forwards Alexander Steen (shoulder) and Tyler Bozak (concussion) on the shelf. 

Bozak, who has missed the past three games, will not accommodate the Blues on a four-game trip that begins Saturday in Dallas and goes through Washington (Monday), the New York Islanders (Tuesday) and Boston (Thursday), but Steen will travel and could play sooner than expected.

"A little closer, yeah," Berube said after a limited optional practice. "... Bozak will stay back. Steen will come on the trip, I believe."

The Blues only had one extra forward [Pat Maroon] available Thursday, and now with Thomas, Steen and Bozak all ailing, it's likely the Blues will call a forward up to have an extra body. In doing that, they can place Bozak on injured-reserve retroactive to last Saturday, or even put Thomas on IR now since he will not be available for at least the next four games.

"We'll talk about about that, maybe get somebody up here," Berube said.

What it's also going to do is give more responsibility to other younger players and players that perhaps had lesser roles, such as Oskar Sundqvist, who played 19:02 on Thursday, and Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Ivan Barbashev and Mackenzie MacEachern, recalled on Thursday from San Antonio.

"They're up here and they need to do the job," Berube said. "They get put in the lineup and you have a job to do. It's accountability that they're in the lineup and they're playing, they've got to do the job.

"They know what their role is. They know how we want them to play. They're young, aggressive players. We want to be an aggressive team. They can skate, get up the ice and that's important."

* On the road again -- The next nine weeks will see the Blues predominantly living out of their suitcases, and given how poor their home record is (11-12-2) and the decent run they've had on the road (7-7-2 overall but 5-2-0 the past seven), it might not be a bad idea.

Beginning Saturday at Dallas, the Blues play nine of the next 10 away from Enterprise Center and a whopping 22 of the next 30 games away from home, which accounts for 73 percent of their games through March 17.

But first thing's first: the next four games are on the road and in some tough buildings.

"Exactly, obviously it's a big road trip for us," Berube said. "We've played well on the road. We're going to continue to, I believe. We're playing good hockey. 

"The key here is you're on the road all the time, you've got to be smart. You've got to be simple and find ways to win games."

The Blues and Stars will play for the second time in five days. The Stars took a 3-1 decision in St. Louis on Tuesday. 

"We've got Dallas here tomorrow night in Dallas, it's going to be a tough game, so you've got to play really well. It's a feel thing," Berube said. "We need to get that next one and then move on from there and look to Washington. We kind of just focus on one game at a time. It's the best way, I believe, rather than looking ahead. Keep a short focus."

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