Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Perron, Schenn, Steen all skate, could be available for 
Friday; getting under Subban's skin; Blais' unique travel day; 

HAZELWOOD, Mo -- If you were in attendance at the Ice Zone inside the St. Louis Outlet Mall on Wednesday, you may have seen an abundance of players on the ice.

Including those that weren't on the ice for a convincing 2-0 win against Nashville on home ice.

David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen were all on the ice for practice Wednesday making for a crowded ice sheet, but a happy one after the Blues closed out February just like they started it -- by winning.

Perron and Schenn have missed with upper-body injuries believed to be concussion-related, and Steen missed Tuesday's win over Nashville with illness.

Perron, who has missed the past 17 games and Schenn, who has missed four games, could conceivably return as early as Friday against Carolina.

"Yeah, there is a chance," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "We'll have to wait and see tomorrow.

"They're still day to day. They both looked good out there today. I thought they both practiced well. They look fine to me, but it's about how they feel."

The lines remained unchanged from Tuesday's win, but the fifth line consisted of Perron-Schenn-Steen, which could match up against many teams' No. 1 units.

The good indications came from the fact that all three were pushing the pace during drills without any restrictions.

That's the decision the players ultimately make with assistance from coaches and medical staffers.

"We talk to them about it, training staff and coaches, but ultimately it's up to them," Berube said. "When they feel ready to play, they're ready to play.

"I think they both (Perron and Schenn) are pushing, but again, you've got to be careful, they want to be careful. I don't blame them."

* Pesky MacEachern -- Count rookie Mackenzie MacEachern among those that have drawn the attention of Nashville's P.K. Subban.

During much of the game on Tuesday, the Blues were doing whatever they could to get under the skin of the Predators defenseman, including MacEachern, Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev and even Robert Thomas.

There was a scrum during the second period in which Subban took exception to MacEachern skating into the crease that ensued with tempers flaring up.

"He's obviously one of their better defensemen," MacEachern said. "We want to get him off his game as much as we can because the more off his game, the less effective he is. I think if we continue to do that, it will bode well for us going forward."

Based off Tuesday, consider it mission accomplished.

The Blues were able to get in a real practice with everyone on board for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.

"I thought it was good," Berube said. "We haven't had one for a while. It was a good opportunity to get one in, a good 25 minutes out there. Guys had good energy."

* Blais unique travel itinerary -- The travel day for Sammy Blais isn't what a normal person would consider, well, normal.

It's not often one hops on a plane, flies West for two hours, only to get off a plane, turn around and come right back.

But that's precisely what Blais did when he was assigned to San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Monday, flew into Denver on Tuesday to meet the team for a game against the Colorado Eagles but was called back to St. Louis under emergency conditions when Steen fell ill.

"My plane was at 7:30 in the morning and when I got to Denver after my flight, I opened my phone and I was told to come back here for the game because I was in the lineup because Steener was sick," Blais said. "I came back here at 2:30, got a light 15-minute nap and came to the rink and played a decent game."

A little more than a decent game.

Blais finished with 11 minutes 30 seconds of ice time with two hits, including a crunching delivery to Nashville's Frederick Gaudreau, and a nifty pass to MacEachern that created a high danger chance.

"The first game when I came back against, it was against Boston, I didn't play in like a week and I had to get back to the speed level of the NHL, but I think in Minnesota and last game, I think I played really good," Blais said.

"Yeah, he performed really well," Berube said. "I thought he had a great game. He was physical, skated, hard on the puck. He did a good job. It's not easy flying and traveling around, but he's done a good job. He's been a good pro."

Blais has a path carved out between San Antonio and St. Louis. Not just St. Louis and San Antonio, but Chicago to St. Louis and back, too. From the moment Blais signed his three-year, entry level contract Nov. 13, 2015, he has been recalled and assigned back to the AHL 12 times, including five recalls this season alone.

"You just always have to be ready and I think yesterday was the first time it happened to me that I had to do that," Blais said. "I was just prepared. I came to the rink and I wanted to play good. I think it worked out pretty well.

"... I just tried to (stay in the moment). But it's always fun to come back here even if I have to make a lot of travel. It's the NHL, so I have nothing to say."

That's the positive outlook Berube hopes Blais maintains.

"It's tough for sure," Berube said. "I'm sure he's a little frustrated with it, but Sammy's got a good attitude. The other side of it, he understands the situation and what's going on. Look, he's made drastic improvements. You've got to look at it that he's in the NHL. You go down to the minors, you play some games and you're back up again, you're in the NHL. You can look at it a couple different ways. The way I look at it is Sammy Blais is improving and he's in the NHL."

So Blais continues to live out of a suitcase, out of his buddy Vince Dunn's residence and in the long run, hopefully have a permanent residence in St. Louis.

"We were on a 21-day road trip with San Antonio, so I had a lot of stuff," Blais said. "I just did some laundry at Dunner's and that's it. (Otherwise), you just pack a couple suits and a couple boxers. That's about it. You're at the rink almost every day,  so you don't need much more than suits and boxers. 

"I stay with [Dunn] at his place. I like it because he's one of my best buddies and we've been roommates before so it's nice to get back with him.

"Last week, I've made a lot of travel. I was in California, then came down here and I was in Denver and came back here. It's part of the business and I'm just happy to come back here any time."

* Division up for grabs, Blues coming in fast -- Their 19-5-2 run has not only vaulted the Blues into third place in the Central Division, but it's also thrust them into sight of not only second place but first as well.

For the first time since October, the Blues sit just four points behind Winnipeg for second (Each team has played 63 games) and five behind the Predators for first place with three games in hand.

If you think the players aren't aware, think again.

"We're right there," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "If you look, we have three games in hand I believe on Nashville. If we win those, we'll jump in front of them. Winnipeg, we're right there, four behind. I was kind of looking at it yesterday and we're right there. It's just the way things have been going. If we continue to press, if we continue to play the way we're doing, we're not going to win every game obviously, but I think if we continue to put our best game forward, we're going to be in a good spot come season's end. Hopefully that's have home ice advantage throughout the playoffs."

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