ST. LOUIS — After being shoved into the boards from behind Saturday by Nashville's Patric Hornvqist, St. Louis Blues winger Chris Stewart prepared for the worst.
Stewart dealt with Hornqvist first, with both players picking up double-minors and Stewart adding an additional 10-minute misconduct. Then Stewart missed the third period and feared he had hurt his back.
"Obviously I assumed the worst, but after the last couple days here and just getting some rest and a little rehab on my back I feel good enough to play," said Stewart, who practiced Monday and was back in the lineup Tuesday against Winnipeg.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock reunited Stewart with center Derek Roy, but also added feisty winger Vladimir Sobotka to the line.
Stewart led the Blues with 18 goals last season, but had none in the first nine games along with two assists. Hitchcock has seen improvement over the last few games.
"He's at the puck now. He's not looking for space, he's fighting for space," Hitchcock said. "The change in the line kind of gave him a little bit of a wake-up call. We like him with Sobotka, we've always liked him Roy, but he needed to be at the puck rather than looking of space."
Hitchcock said Stewart has showed signs of an offensive breakout.
"He was getting a ton of odd-man rushes...in the (previous) Winnipeg game he had three 2-on-1's alone," Hitchcock said. "But that's not his game, so he was getting discouraged because he was missing so many opportunities off the rush. He wasn't getting the quality offensive-zone chances that he did last year."
Stewart has maintained a positive outlook during the early slump. He's also been instrumental in some of Alexander Steen's power-play goal by using his big body to screen the goalies.
"Obviously I'm not getting the bounces right now, but the team's winning and I'm happy and playing solid hockey," Stewart said. "If that's what they need me to do is be that screen on net-front goals, that's perfectly fine. Sooner or later they'll start hitting me and going in, so I'm not to worried about that."
Steen's father is former Winnipeg Jets star Thomas Steen and the younger Steen grew up in Winnipeg, as did Blues winger Ryan Reaves.
Reaves also had a famous father in Willard Reaves, a former Most Valuable Player in the Canadian Football League and star running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Willard Reaves also spent time in the NFL with Miami and Washington. Reaves led the CFL in rushing in 1984 and his son was also a prolific running back in high school.
"Until I played junior (hockey), I was football-hockey every year, soccer, ultimate frisbee...you name the sport and I played it," Ryan Reaves said. "I played football up until my injury that kind of made me decided between football and hockey."
That injury wasn't routine in any way.
"I tore my PCL (patellar collateral knee ligament) shaking hands in a hockey tournament," said Reaves, who actually injured his knee skating back to the bench after the handshake. "It was a weird, freak accident."
Eye on the World Series
Though his parents and practically everyone in his family was a New York Yankees fan, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk turned on the others.
He became a Red Sox fan, despite growing up in the New York-Connecticut area. Shattenkirk later had plenty of opportunities to visit Fenway Park while playing hockey for Boston University and now he roots for both the Cardinals and Red Sox.
"I think you just fear it going to Game 7 period against the Cardinals," Shattenkirk said. "Obviously having (Michael) Wacha pitching, it's their guy right now."
The Red Sox won World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, both on the road. Now they have a shot to clinch at home for the first time since 1918.
"That's a pretty cool stat," Shattenkirk said. "I was there in '07 when they won it and even though they weren't at home, it was mayhem. It's a pretty cool city to be in when the Red Sox are doing well."