HAZELWOOD - Alexander Steen was centering a line with David Backes and Patrik Berglund at Monday’s practice at the Ice Zone.
That’s also where he’ll be Tuesday night at Scottrade Center, when the Blues host the Colorado Avalanche at 7:30 p.m.
Steen will be returning the lineup for his first game since Feb. 20, where a hit from Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton forced him into an awkward collision into the boards and put him on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
“It was just a waiting game, that’s all it was,” Steen said after practice. “I wasn’t overly concerned about how many games (I’d miss) or if I was going to play before the playoffs. My main concern was getting it good enough to play again, and here we are. I’m excited to get back.
“It’s been awhile, I’ve missed the boys and missed being a part of the action.”
Steen has been practicing with the team since March 8, but Monday was the first time he participated with one of the club’s top forward lines.
“He’s like any other injured player, you’re going to have to give him some space and time to get up to speed,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s looked good for a week and he’s looked good in practice. This is his first full participation as far as contact goes, and he’s fine.”
“To stay under the play and keep the play in front of you and be patient and cover up for potential errors, it takes a real level of a hockey IQ to do that,” Hitchcock added about Steen. “It’s hard to slow down mentally and physically. He does that. He becomes very predictable to his linemates, he’s a very secure player. As a coach, those are dream players to get.”
Through 61 games this season, Steen ranks second on the team with 47 points (17 goals and 30 assists).
“He’s a very good player and good leader to have in your locker room,” Berglund said. “We’re happy to have him back.”