Blues' Oshie looks ready to return to the lineup

News-DemocratApril 29, 2013 

— Adding a bit of playoff intrigue Monday surrounding the possible return of St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie, coach Ken Hitchcock had Oshie and three other forwards in yellow jerseys at practice.

Oshie skated on a line with Patrik Berglund and David Perron, but rookie winger Vladimir Tarasenko also took shifts with the line.

Oshie believes he is ready to return, but wants to make sure he provides energy.

"If I don't I can't imagine I'll be getting too many shifts," Oshie said. "I want to be as intense as I can. I want to get the boys going with a hit or a good effort on the forecheck or the backcheck. Anything I can do to help the guys I'm excited to get out there and do it."

Oshie, who had seven goals and 20 points in 30 games, sat out the previous 15 games with a stress fracture in his left ankle. He was skating well while attempting a comeback before the stress fracture was detected and he underwent surgery two weeks ago.

"I don't think we ever really rushed anything. It's ready," Oshie said.

"I'm sure everybody's going to read because there's four yellows (jerseys) that somebody from the yellow's going out," Hitchcock said. "It would be a big mistake if you read into that one."

If Oshie is able to return as expected, someone has to come out of the lineup.

Speculation has centered on Tarasenko and winger Adam Cracknell, although Cracknell has been a key part of the energetic fourth line that has helped set the tone for some of the Blues' recent wins.

"Don't read into it," cautioned Hitchcock. "I can tell you right now that every sweater that's out there other than Jamie (Langenbrunner), whose not quite ready yet, is eligible. We're not even going to let some of the players know until tomorrow who's in or who's out. We'll adjust accordingly.

"We'll get an evaluation on Oshie to see how he feels and how he looked and then we'll evaluate it tomorrow."

Hitchcock believes the Blues are better with Oshie, but he wanted to give the medical staff a chance to evaluate him after a hard workout on Monday.

"I don't know that he can be a difference maker, but he carries the conscience of the team," Hitchcock said. "When he's in the lineup we're better. I don't care if it's just 5-on-5, if that's all he can contribute right now, but were better when he's in the lineup."

Oshie has played with Perron and Berglund before.

"The Kid Line's back," he joked. "We're not kids any more, but I'm fine with it."

Oshie was asked what the Blues need to do to avoid another playoff loss to the Kings, who swept them in four games a year ago.

"Probably not let them push us around and intimidate us," he said. "I think last year not everyone ... but we had some guys that just didn't want to go into the hard areas. We can push them and we've showed it this year in L.A."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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