ST. LOUIS - As practice began to wind down Tuesday morning, Alexander Steen and Brian Elliott joined the team on the ice and each received nice ovations from their teammates.
Both players have been on injured reserve since February.
Steen sustained an upper-body injury on Feb. 20 in Arizona, while Elliott sustained a lower-body injury two days later against San Jose.
“This is the first time the public has been able to see them, but they’ve been on the ice for four or five days now,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re glad to have them closer and closer, but until they join - it’s like everything else - we’ve learned not to get excited until they’re given the green light to start practicing (in full) with us, then you get excited because you’re counting down the days.”
Both Steen and Elliott were expected to be re-evaluated four weeks from the injury, and both appear to be right on schedule.
“I’m not getting overly optimistic on the good days, and not too hard on myself on the rough ones,” Steen said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s two weeks until that point (of getting re-evaluated), and we’ll have another chat with the docs to see where I’m at… up until then, it’s just work every day, try to keep my gas tank full and take it day by day.”
Elliott said the timing for his injury was disappointing. He had been on an outstanding run, going 12-3-3 record in 18 consecutive starts. He had also moved to the top spot in the League in goals-against average (2.06) and save-percentage (.931).
“It’s never fun. When you’re playing and on a roll, you just want to keep playing,” Elliott said. “It’s tough when you go down like that, but you’ve got to think of it positively, get stronger and when you come back, be a little more rested and ready for a playoff run.”
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong has said his intention is to get both Steen and Elliott back before the end of the regular season. He is hoping both players can get back up to speed before the playoffs begin.
In the meantime, both players are happy to see the team playing well in their absence.
“Recently I think the guys have been playing great,” Steen said. “They’re making me bite my nails a little in the last couple minutes of games, but it’s alright when they bank the two points. The spirit has been good around here. It’s tough when there’s been so many road games to have a pulse on the team, but I’ve been trying (to do that) through group text.
“It’s a good attitude around here and the boys are feeling it right now.”