ST. LOUIS - Reinforcements are coming, slowly but surely.
Steve Ott will be back in the lineup tonight when the Blues host the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).
Ott was injured Nov. 4 in Chicago and has missed six games. He said he began skating just several days after the injury and declared himself good to go for tonight.
“It’s one of those things when you’re ready, you’re ready,” Ott said after the morning skate. Having to watch the boys play and miss those valuable games is never fun during the season. I’m feeling pretty good now and I’m moving forward. When it’s an upper-body injury, you can continue to keep the legs going.”
Jori Lehtera will also play after dodging what could have been a serious injury Tuesday after getting a high-stick to the throat Tuesday in Columbus.
“The only thing I have is the soprano voice that I have right now, but yeah, I’m good,” Lehtera said. “I just battle. You battle hard, sometimes that happens.”
“It’s tough right now (with all the injuries), but it shows a lot of our character to do what we’re doing,” said Robby Fabbri. “To see those guys coming back soon, it’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
In a bit of bad news on the injury front, Colton Parayko will miss his second consecutive game with a lower-body injury. Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said Parayko was “still too sore to play.”
Paul Stastny was on the ice with the team today during the morning skate and has been skating with other injured teammates for several days. Stastny has been out of the lineup since sustaining a broken foot Oct. 16 in Vancouver.
“It hit me at weird angle, that’s the only problem,” Stastny said. “The puck was on edge, so that edge part hit my foot. It was an unfortunate bounce. What are you going to do, sometimes it happens.”
“He’s not cleared yet, but with all the stuff he’s been doing, once he’s cleared, he’ll be able to come in and play games right way,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t think there will be an adjustment phase and just have him go participate in some practices. He’s all the way back except for waiting for medical clearance, and that’s not there yet.”
When asked if he would still be weeks away, Stastny said he didn’t think it would be that long.
“With this injury, it’s got to heal all the way. When I’m skating, it feels really good and every day it’s getting better and better. Hopefully, right now for me, it’s take it day by day and talk to doctors, get an X-ray, see where it’s at. Once I’m cleared, I should be good to go.”
The Blues and Sabres will meet twice in the next five days, beginning with tonight’s contest at Scottrade Center. The Blues have won six in a row against the Sabres and 16 of the last 18 meetings dating back to January 1999.
The Sabres lost their most recent game on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars and are 8-9-1 this season.
“They play with high energy, it’s actually fun to watch,” Hitchcock said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that try you one-on-one. They’ve got speed, they’ve got agility, a high-level of skill - they look like a really good young emerging team.
“You’re going to have to take advantage of their inexperience at times, but you’re not going to beat them energy-wise. You might beat them, but you’re not going to outwork them.”
Steen - Backes - Tarasenko
Paajarvi - Lehtera - Jaskin
Fabbri - Gomez - Brouwer
Welsh - Brodziak - Ott
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Edmundson - Shattenkirk
Gunnarsson - Bortuzzo
The Blues will wrap up Military Week at tonight’s game. Fans are encouraged to bring care package items to the game for troops, and all fans that donate will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win a camouflage jerseys from Jaden Schwartz, Carl Gunnarsson, Scott Gomez or Patrik Berglund. For a list of needed care package items, visit stlouisblues.com/military.
The Blues killed all four Blue Jackets power plays on Tuesday and have now killed 10 straight, boosting the PK to 85.1 percent, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
Lehtera scored his first career hat trick in a 6-1 win against the Sabres on Nov. 11 last season.
Scott Gomez has 32 career points against Buffalo (10 goals, 22 assists) in 57 games.
Kyle Brodziak has a five-game point streak against the Sabres and has multiple points in his last two games against them (four goals, three assists).