Monday, March 11, 2019


Marron injured, initial reaction is he's OK; moving on without Tarasenko; 
Thomas moves to top line; Perron status quo; Binnington to start Tuesday

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- As if the Blues haven't had their share of injuries, another one seemed to be worse than originally appeared today.

Pat Maroon had to be helped off the ice with what looked like a right knee injury after crashing hard and fast into the corner boards at the Ice Zone at practice Monday.

Players immediately called for head athletic trainer Ray Barile, and after getting to his skates, Maroon was helped off the ice by Barile and a teammate.

But when asked about it afterwards, interim coach Craig Berube called it "nothing."

"He should be fine," Berube said. "Just a scare, unless tomorrow he wakes up. But I think he's fine."

The Blues have already been hit with injuries recently to Brayden Schenn (concussion), who had since returned after missing three games; David Perron (concussion), who has missed the past 22 games; Carl Gunnarsson (wrist), who has missed the past 17 games, and now Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body), who missed Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss at San Jose and who the Blues said Sunday would be re-evaluated in 10 days.

"That's tough. It's like any injury," Berube said of Tarasenko. "We've dealt with them here for a while now. It's unfortunate for the team and for him for sure. He'll recover and get back when he can. We've got guys that can do the job. We've just got to keep going. There's nothing we can do about it. It happened. It's unfortunate, and we've just got to keep plugging away."

The Blues (36-25-7) host the Arizona Coyotes Tuesday and it will be monitored whether Maroon is able to play or not.

* Thomas moves up -- With Tarasenko out of the lineup for at least the next four games, possibly longer, rookie Robert Thomas will finally get his look with the big boys.

Thomas skated on the top line with Brayden Schenn and Ryan O'Reilly and will play with them against the Coyotes.

"I really like the way he's playing," Berube said of Thomas. "I think he had a great road trip, his vision with the puck making plays. That's kind of how I viewed it.

"As a kid coming into the league, it takes a while to get adjusted and how fast it is and how competitive you have to be and just the all-around game. It's a lot different than junior hockey. He's a smart guy, a hard-working guy and the coaching staff's done a real good job with him bringing him along. Otter and these guys have done a real good job of working with him. He's really picked up the speed part of it. He's skating really well, getting into open ice and making plays. A lot of stuff like that, he's really good at it.

"He's a good kid and he's got a good attitude. That's the biggest thing. He didn't expect that, I don't think. Not that he didn't want it; I'm sure he did, but he didn't expect it. But he worked hard and learned the game as he went along. He's getting better and better and as that happens, his minutes go up."

Thomas, who has 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 56 games this season that includes his first two-goal game in the NHL at Anaheim last Wednesday, is looking forward to it but isn't looking to replace Tarasenko, who leads the Blues with 28 goals.

"I don't think I've got Vladi's shot," Thomas said. "I'm not going to try and do that. I think for me, it's just keep playing the way I am. They've obviously liked the way I've played the last couple games to give me this opportunity. I think for me it's just keep playing my game and try to complement them as much as I can."

Thomas, a center by trade, has adjusted to life as a right winger and feels his game now can complement whichever position he plays.

"I'm always going to be a natural centerman," Thomas said. "That's always going to be my spot, but I think now lately, the last 20 games, I feel a lot more comfortable on the wing. My roots are good, I'm getting the puck with speed, stiff like that. I can definitely be more flexible, but I'll always be a centerman."

What's evolved as much as the position switch is the fact that Thomas, 19, has been figuring out what his role is in the NHL and how he can continue to grow his game.

Playing third- and fourth-line minutes earlier this season helped him gain a true perspective.

"I think I've started to come into who I know I can be," Thomas said. "I'm still not there. I've still got a long way to go to what I feel I'm capable of. I think kind of the whole transition process is kind of getting over with. I feel really good out there."

* Perron still day-to-day -- As for Perron, he skated again in practice Monday and still looked like he was having little to no issues. 

But Berube said he's still day-to-day and is leaving the decision when he's ready to him.

"Just the same. He's skating. He's fine out there," Berube said. "When he decides he wants to play, we've got a spot for him."

Berube was asked if Perron needed any more testing done, and he said he believes Perron has passed all the concussion tests and isn't required to take any more. 

What is believed to be the issue is Perron needs to pass his vision/eye tests and that seems to be the holdup at this point. So until those things clear up, there is no timeline for his return.

When Perron departed the lineup, he was on a career-high 13-game point streak (six goals, 10 assists), so his insertion into the lineup would be vital at this point.

* Notes -- After playing Jake Allen in back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 3-5, Jordan Binnington will get the start Tuesday against the Coyotes.

Allen is coming off a shutout at Los Angeles and the OT loss at San Jose, and after the win against the Ducks in which Binnington allowed four goals, Berube is going back to the rookie. 

"We're going to need both goalies and it's going to be Binnington tomorrow," said Berube, who's usually not forthcoming about naming a starting goalie.

What's good about this is both goalies seem to be pushing the best out of the other, and Berube believes that's exactly what's happening.

"Yeah I do, and that's part of it," he said. "The other side of this is we need both goalies to play well. You've got to keep them going and you've got to keep both of them involved."

Blues forward Alexander Steen missed practice with a maintenance day and should be good to go Tuesday, according to Berube.

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