ST. LOUIS — A healthy Andy McDonald moves the St. Louis Blues one step closer to having their full roster once again.
McDonald, who has missed the last 10 games with a left knee injury, joined the entire team for practice on Monday. He skated on a line with Patrik Berglund and David Perron and believes he is ready to return to the lineup Tuesday in Vancouver.
"The plan is to play tomorrow," McDonald said. "I'm feeling pretty good. It's been a difficult injury to recover from, especially for me. I rely heavily on my skating and the knee's a tricky part, you need it for everything you do.
"It's been tough, but I'm really exciting to be back."
McDonald said he really tested the knee over the past two days.
"I know I have to be confident in it," said McDonald, who has three goals and 11 points in 18 games. "The last two days I've really tried to push it almost to the point of trying to re-tweak it or re-sprain it, test it in all different areas. I feel it's at a point where it's good enough to play."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock took a more cautious approach. He was pleased with McDonald's progress, but wants to see how the knee reacts a day later.
"We'll see in the morning how he feels," Hitchcock said. "Today was really the first time that he's participated with 20 guys on the ice. If he feels fine tomorrow and feels confident then we'll look at putting him in.
"In the end he's the one that makes the decision. He had to amp it up and prove to us that he could participate in a full activity, which he showed easily he could do."
"There can't be any hesitation on my part," McDonald said. "I have to be able to play and go in there 100 percent, not hold back. I think that's where I'm at right now."
Also on the ice Monday was Blues winger T.J. Oshie, still on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Oshie participated in nearly all the drills and said he is much better and will join the Blues on the road trip.
"It feels good being back with the boys," said Oshie, who suffered what is believed to be a rib injury while being driven awkwardly into the boards a game before he left after trying to make a check three days later against San Jose. "I'm just taking it a step at a time. Every day I'm getting better. It's getting there."
Stewart named NHL Player of the Week
Red-hot Blues winger Chris Stewart's prolific scoring helped him earn the honor of being named NHL First Star of the Week.
Stewart led the NHL last week with five goals and seven points, including two game-winning goals in three games. He had two goals Tuesday against San Jose, then had two goals and an assist Thursday in a 3-0 win over Phoenix.
"Stewie's challenge is just sorting out why he's having success," Hitchcock said. "Once you figure out why you're having success, you don't want to let go of the rope. I think he's figuring out the harder he competes the more he scores.
"Rather than looking to score, he's looking to compete. The whole thing just takes care of itself and when you have skill players who operate like that, they're hard to play against."
On Saturday Stewart collected the overtime game-winner against Anaheim. He has seven goals and 14 points in his last seven games and is the Blues' top scorer with 14 goals and 28 points in 28 games.
*Hitchcock said rookie goalie Jake Allen, who has won his last five starts, will get the start Tuesday in Vancouver. Jaroslav Halak will start Saturday's game in Edmonton.
*With McDonald's return expected, the Blues reassigned forward Adam Cracknell to Peoria. He provided a spark with his physical, defensive style.
"That was a very difficult decision," Hitchcock said. "He was a good player for us, he just didn't come in and fill a spot. He came in and filled a role, and did a hell of a job filling the role."