Blues getting a few positive signs on the injury front

News-DemocratApril 15, 2014 

— While the St. Louis Blues didn't have everyone on the ice Tuesday for an optional workout, the sight of T.J. Oshie smiling and skating offered a positive sign.

Among the Blues' recent glut of injured players, Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Barret Jackman and Vladimir Tarasenko all participated in varying levels of the workout.

"It was good to skate around, sweat a little bit because I haven't been going anything for a long time," said Oshie, who missed the final two regular-season games after being leveled on a hit to the head April 10 by Minnesota's Mike Rupp that earned Rupp a four-game suspension.

"The first couple days were pretty tough for me, but I've been getting a lot of rest," Oshie said. "I woke up this morning and felt pretty good and went out there and skated. I felt pretty good out there."

Does Oshie feel good enough to play in Game 1 on Thursday? That's mostly up to the team's medical staff at this point.

"We'll see how I do tonight and how I am tomorrow morning," Oshie said. "I'm just moving forward as quickly as I can, without hurting myself in the long run or hurting my team in the long run. It's the doctor's decision first. I think they already know what my decision is."

Veteran Blues winger Brenden Morrow was in a walking boot cast a few days ago, but there he was Tuesday skating and participating in drills.

His surprisingly quick return shows how hard some of the team's injured players are working to get back before the playoffs begin Thursday.

"The cavalry's coming," Morrow said. "We're using this time to get healthy. For me, I wanted to get out there and get moving again. This old body needs to get warmed up, I couldn't' just jump in and get into a game after what I've had, so I wanted to get out there a little bit and feeling good about myself."

Tarasenko, out with a right hand injury since March 15, was even firing wrist shots -- another good sign.

"We'll see tomorrow," Tarasenko said.

Oshie seems to have moved past the hit by Rupp and is focused on trying to return to active duty.

"It's a hockey play, I don't think he was really trying to catch my face there," Oshie said. "What's done is done and I'm just trying to recover and forget about that, worry about moving on."

Oshie said the hit to his head definitely was a major concern.

"It's a lot different," he said. "Before you'd take some ibuprofen and if you have a pretty high pain tolerance you can go out there and play. This is something not to really mess around with, so I've been taking my time.

"I had a lot of energy and wanted to start moving around and the trainers wouldn't let me, so it was nice to get out there today and skate it out a little bit."

Teams release hardly any information about injuries this late in the season. There was speculation that Oshie might have a concussion.

"It's something that I've never had to deal with before," he said. "We've had some guys here that have had a really tough time with it, but today I feel good. That's where we're going from here.

"I went on the ice yesterday and just shot pucks. (I) didn't skate but rode the bike for a half hour and felt pretty good. Just to snap the puck around felt good."

Among those missing practice Tuesday were injured players David Backes (foot), Patrik Berglund (upper body) and Vladimir Sobotka (lower body).

Asked whether Backes would be able to practice this week, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said "maybe."

And Hitchcock wasn't overly optimistic on any of the Blues' injured players, saying he would rather wait until watching a full-scale practice Wednesday before making a judgment.

"Not until they practice," Hitchcock said. "Some guys were able to skate today, some guys weren't. (For) some guys this was their first go. I get the fact guys are trying to play, but we've got to get a proper evaluation off a practice and see when the tempo goes up whether they can keep up."

However, Hitchcock repeated a statement he made Sunday that all of the Blues' injured players would likely see action in the first-round series against the Blackhawks.

"I'm not ruling anybody out for Thursday, including the guys that didn't skate today," Hitchcock said. "You all weren't here (Monday). Guys skated yesterday, didn't skate today ... some guys were good yesterday feel sore today, so we'll get a better read at practice tomorrow."

Healthy Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk and Roman Polak also did not practice Tuesday.

The Blues open their first-round playoff series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. Thursday at Scottrade Center.

"To be the best you've got to beat the best," Morrow said. "They're the defending champs so we've got our work cut out for us. We didn't make it easy on ourselves the last two weeks of the season, but we've had some good games with this team.

"It's going to be a lot of fun."

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

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