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At the Rink blog

Colaiacovo to make return debut for Blues vs. Wild

Monday, 11.25.2013 / 1:56 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Colaiacovo to make return debut for Blues vs. Wild

ST. LOUIS -- Less than two weeks after signing a one-year, $550,000 contract, Carlo Colaiacovo will make his return debut with the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

Colaiacovo was brought back to the team after defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand surgery) was lost for two months to provide veteran depth. After being bought out of the final year of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings this past summer, the 30-year-old Colaiacovo was without a job but keeping in hockey shape in Toronto.

Colaiacovo got the call from the Blues and a contract was consummated quickly.

"That's what I was told. Hopefully that's the case. If it is, it's exciting for me," Colaiacovo said regarding his insertion into the lineup. "... At the end of the day, I'm confident in myself, I'm confident in my abilities that I can come in here and play a simple game, use the experience of my partner and the guys on the back end and just focus on getting a win."

Colaiacovo, acquired in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2008 along with Alexander Steen for Lee Stempniak, has been a healthy scratch for six games while getting himself in game shape working with the team in a daily basis.

"I've done a lot of hard work off the ice to keep myself in the best shape possible for a situation like this," Colaiacovo said. "I feel really good on the ice. I think for me, it's just the excitement of finally getting back into a game. I've played a lot of hockey over my career. I've faced scenarios like this where I haven't played in a long time and I've always fared pretty well. At the end of the day, I've just got to focus on keeping things simple, using my smarts, using my instincts and focusing on playing well."

Colaiacovo will get his chance against the Minnesota Wild [8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2] because fellow defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was not at the morning skate. Coach Ken Hitchcock said Shattenkirk is sick -- the Blues (16-3-3) have been dealing with the flu bug off and on the past week or so -- and will be a game-time decision. If Shattenkirk plays, someone else will come out of the lineup, since Hitchcock said Colaiacovo is in regardless of Shattenkirk's situation.

"He's sick, so our preference with anybody that has sickness this year is just to keep them away from the team," Hitchcock said of Shattenkirk. "... We'll read it into the rest of the day, but our preference is to keep him away from the group and let him get some sleep and rest.

"As soon as a guy calls in sick, we just tell him to stay home. Every team goes through it. We've been lucky that guys have come back and played the same day that they've been sick, or the night before. This is now player No. 5. You just manage it properly. If the other four all came back and played in the game, we expect that to be happening again. But you never know. We're not going to risk one hockey game to add another six or seven players because a guy's in here. Back to the infirmary."

The Wild (15-5-4), who have been shuffling the deck as well, will get veteran Mike Rupp (lower-body injury) back in the lineup against the Blues. He has not played a game this season. Goalie Josh Harding (lower-body injury) stayed back in Minnesota after returning there Sunday following an injury that occurred during the pre-game warm-up against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Mikael Granlund (upper-body injury) will miss his second straight game.

"He just stayed back," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Harding. "Just day-to-day and obviously we'll see what happens here in the next couple days.

"Obviously it's tough to tell on a morning skate. We've got to see [Rupp] in some game action. It's a different pace once the puck drops but anxious to have him back. ... I was hoping to have [Granlund] here today, but we're going to keep him off again today and we'll call it day-to-day too."

The projected lineups for the Wild and Blues:

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Nino Niederreiter

Mike Rupp - Zenon Konopka - Dany Heatley

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner - Nate Prosser

Niklas Backstrom

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Matt Dumba

Injured: Josh Harding (lower body), Keith Ballard (upper body), Mikael Granlund (upper body), Torrey Mitchell (leg)

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Derek Roy - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Brenden Morrow - Maxim Lapierre - Magnus Paajarvi

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Carlo Colaiacovo

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Adam Cracknell, Kevin Shattenkirk (illness/game-time decision)

Injured: Jordan Leopold (hand), Ryan Reaves (hand)

Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie