ST. LOUIS --
For the second time in a week, the St. Louis Blues
were anticipating the return of winger Alex Steen
to the lineup.
And for the second time, it's been determined that Steen (concussion-related symptoms) is not quite ready to return.
Steen will miss his 10th consecutive game when the Blues (27-12-6) entertain the Edmonton Oilers
(17-24-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM). Steen continues to skate, and even took part in a full-scale workout Wednesday at St. Louis Mills, determining himself to be "close." But after Thursday's morning skate, the Blues said he's not at 100 percent.
"Steen's not 100 percent and he's not coming in until he's 100 percent, so the next update we'll give you which ... who knows, will be when he's in," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a very similar situation with Andy (McDonald). He's not 100, so he's not playing.
"He's had good days, but until he's 100 (percent) with that injury, we're not taking any chances. ... He's participating in everything, but this is 100 percent physically, 100 percent mentally and if it's 95 or 99, we're not taking any chances. We want this to be 100 percent, so if it's on a conditioning side where we're concerned with where there's kind of soreness the next day or he's missed a time and hit the wall, we're not taking any chances. We want the player for long-term so we'll keep him out and keep working him hard like we are now."
The good news for the Blues is that defenseman Kris Russell
(groin) will make his return after missing nine games.
Russell, who has five points in 21 games with the Blues, will replace Ian Cole
in the lineup.
"I didn't want to push it if I wasn't feeling right, but it felt good," Russell said after the morning skate. "Obviously a little bit of tightness in it, but I'm fully confident in my skating ability now. It should be good."
Hitchcock is one that if a player is ready to play, he's in; so there won't be any type of easing Russell back in.
"Hitch is always like that," Russell said. "If you're ready to go, you better execute and play within the system, be an effective player. That's what I want to do."
So for Russell, it's just do what he does best.
"Mostly it's just simplifying your game," Russell said. "Try not to do much, make quick first outlet passes, be sharp on the puck and let your game evolve from there. That's what I'm going to try and do."
With Alex Steen
out of the lineup, the St. Louis Blues
will keep things as they have been the last handful or so games. That means Matt D'Agostini
will stay in a top-six role with Patrik Berglund
and T.J. Oshie
, while David Perron
moves back up with David Backes
and Chris Stewart
That means the return of the 'Kid Line' will have to wait for the time being.
"We'll just go back to flipping him (D'Agostini) and flipping Perron back in with Backes and go back to where we were before," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "If we get in a situation like we did in the third period (Monday) where we think we need Oshie's energy and a little bit different role, then we'll go back to that.
"Oshie's been good wherever we play him. The thing that concerned me the last game, the (Backes) line was spending too much time on their heels. They were defending too much. It was too conservative. Wherever you play Oshie, it's not going to be a conservative group. You'll be on the forecheck all night. He created the energy that the line came with and he did a helluva job."