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Blues' Steen returns to lineup Tuesday

St. Louis forward has missed 15 games with upper-body injury

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

Steen One-on-One

Steen to return to the lineup Tuesday

Alexander Steen chats with FOX Sports Midwest’s John Kelly about preparing to return to the lineup

  • 03:15 •

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues will get a huge lift Tuesday when versatile two-way forward Alexander Steen returns from an upper-body injury against the Colorado Avalanche (8:30 p.m., ET; NBCSN).

Steen, who has missed the past 15 games, skated on a line at practice Monday centering Patrik Berglund on left wing and David Backes on right wing, a line he was playing on when he was injured Feb. 20 at the Arizona Coyotes following a collision with defenseman Kevin Connauton.

Steen is second on the Blues in points (47) and tied for second with Vladimir Tarasenko in assists (30).

"I feel pretty good. I think we're going to try it out [Tuesday] ... as long as everything went well today, and it did, so you're probably going to see me on the ice [Tuesday]," Steen said. "I wasn't overly concerned about how many games, or if I was going to play before the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. The 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 missed the boys and missed being a part of the action."

Video: STL@ARI: Steen gets shaken up during the 1st period

The Blues went 10-5-0 without Steen. They lost three in a row, won six straight, lost two and have since won four straight -- all via the shutout.

"The boys have been playing great," Steen said. "It's been a lot of fun to see. I really liked our game in Washington (a 4-0 victory Saturday), how tight we played, and coming off back-to-back for us to show the strength and conditioning we have and play a game like that was impressive."

The Blues will insert Steen into the lineup immediately, even though Monday was the first full practice with contact at a premium and teammates being about to knock him around physically. 

When Steen was injured, he was No. 1 in the NHL among forwards in shifts per game (29.4) and among the League leaders in minutes played by forwards (20:30).

"Well, I've used the time here to really work on ... the lower-body still worked fine, so I was fortunate to be able to ride the bike and skate and really push myself," Steen said. "The body feels good, it's refreshed, and the legs are ready to go. They've been itching for a while."

Video: STL@FLA: Steen backhands a beauty past Montoya

Coach Ken Hitchcock said Steen would play in all situations. 

"There isn't enough time. We've got to get him up to speed and see what he does," Hitchcock said. "We've got numbers to cover over, whether there's another unit on the power play to make it work in case we need it or go to eight PK guys, which is what we'll do. We'll space out the time a little bit more, but he's going to have to get used to doing everything. We might as well get him little pieces of it moving forward. 

"As I told him, we've got to keep playing to win here. Points and home ice is the next goal for us and we don't want to lose sight of that. We've started to check some things off that we want to get done, and that's the next one. We want to make sure that we can take advantage of that. So if he can help us in any way, we're going to use him."

The Blues (45-22-9) are tied with the Dallas Stars for first in the Central Division. Each team has six games remaining.

"It's huge. [Steen is] a leader on this team from his work ethic off the ice to on the ice to how he handles himself every day," goalie Brian Elliott said. "I think a lot of guys look up to a guy like him. With his presence on the ice, I think it's another dangerous weapon that we have. It's awesome to have him back. He'll slide right in and pick up where he left off."

Video: STL@ARI: Steen scores top-shelf during breakaway

Hitchcock will use Steen at center, a position he tried with him before he was injured and liked the results. The line gives the Blues three players with experience not only at center but playing the wings.

"Where it helps us is the faceoff dot," Hitchcock said. "We prefer that Steen stays down low and we'd prefer that Backes and [Berglund] are into the other teams' defense as much as possible, but because David's so good on the right side of the faceoff dot and [Berglund's] going to have to take some of these faceoffs too, it gives us a chance to start with the puck more. Between the two dots where it's 70 percent, which is a really high number and that's where we want to stay ... if a big, weighty line like that can start with the puck, that's a good sign."

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