Backes back on the ice; Schwartz returns with a goal

News-DemocratDecember 19, 2013 

— St. Louis Blues captain David Backes, who missed Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury, was back on the ice Thursday skating on his own.

Backes was injured during a collision Monday against Ottawa. He appeared a bit disoriented as he skated toward the bench and hasn't played since.

Backes sat out Tuesday's game against San Jose. It was the first time he did not play since Jan. 25. 2010, ending a 274-game streak (289 games counting the playoffs).

"I'm going to wait and talk to the training staff and Ken (Hitchcock) after, but it's always a good sign," Armstrong said of Backes' skate on Thursday morning. "This was how we saw it moving forward we because didn't put him on IR (injured reserve). I'm not surprised to see him skating and we hope to see him back in there soon."

* Winger Jaden Schwartz returned to the lineup Thursday against Montreal and began the night on the top line with Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie.

Schwartz had missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, then returned Thursday and scored a goal in the third period.

"Schwartzie can play with anyone," Oshie said. "He's a great player, he works hard. It seems like every line that he's on, that line gets more offensive zone time. That line gets energy off of him."

What's the biggest difference Oshie sees in Schwartz from last season to 2013-14? The goal on Thursday gave Schwartz six goals and seven assists for 13 points in his past 13 games.

"It seems like he's controlling the puck a lot more," Oshie said. "He's taken on more responsibility and he's playing key minutes on the penalty kill. He's really stepped up his game and is taking on more of a role.

"With him out of the lineup, we noticed it on the bench those last couple games."

Schwartz played with Steen and Oshie in the playoffs last spring against the Kings.

"I just tweaked something a little bit ago and it kind of got worse, so I needed to rest it," Schwartz said when asked about the nature of his injury. "It's a long year so I didn't want to make it worse. A few days of rest has definitely helped it and I got a lot of work on it."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Vladimir Sobotka (upper body) is still not ready to return. Sobotka has missed three straight games.

"He's not ready to go," Hitchcock said. "He's probably 50 percent of where he needs to be."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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