ST. LOUIS - Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk
will return to the lineup Saturday vs. Columbus after missing 25 games with an abdominal injury.
"I'm ready to go," Shattenkirk said after practice Friday. "It's kind of that time now. The only way to get back into game shape is to start playing games. I had a really good practice today. I felt good out there and it was nice to be out there with the team, get the speed of the game back a little bit. Tomorrow will be notched up even more playing in a game. I'm excited about it."
Shattenkirk has been out of the lineup since being injured Feb. 1 in a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals.
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said Shattenkirk would start the game Saturday on the third defensive pairing alongside Barret Jackman.
"They've played all of last year together, but eventually we're going to need Shatty playing more minutes," Hitchcock said. "We'll get a gauge after the Monday game against Vancouver about how much more we can play him. We should get him 18-plus hopefully moving forward.
"It's a big boost," Hitchcock added. "He was trending towards 60-plus points, which would put him second or third in scoring on our team, and probably in the top of the league as far as defensemen go. It's a big add."
The 26-year-old defenseman has played in 49 games this season, scoring eight goals and 32 assists (40 points). Shattenkirk also has a plus-18 rating.
"I've done what I've got to do rehab-wise," Shattenkirk said. "It's time to jump back into it."