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Blues' Backes returning to lineup vs. Avalanche

by Louie Korac

AVALANCHE (3-4-4) at BLUES (5-3-1)


ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues will have their captain back Saturday when they host the Colorado Avalanche.

David Backes, who missed a 2-0 victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday because of a concussion, was back on the ice Friday and again for the morning skate Saturday. Backes was hurt during the Blues' game Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.

Although Backes was non-committal about his availability, coach Ken Hitchcock said Backes was in.

"Backes will play. Don't go to the bank on the rest of the lineup," Hitchcock said. "That's about all I can tell you. But Backes will play and the rest we'll take through the rest of the day and make sure we've got 20, whether we go back to 11 [forwards] and seven [defensemen]. Some guys that skated [Saturday] felt good. Some guys didn't feel great. So we'll just take it through the day."

The Blues know they will be without right wing T.J. Oshie, who also sustained a concussion against the Stars, as well as former Avalanche Paul Stastny, who will miss his sixth consecutive game with a shoulder injury sustained Oct. 18. Stastny did skate again Saturday and appears close to a return.

Joakim Lindstrom, who also missed the game Thursday because of the bacterial infection affecting the players the past two weeks, resumed skating Saturday after missing practice Friday.

"I think all of us thought we were done dealing with it, but then I got it and then ... it's a little bit of everything," said Lindstrom, who played for Colorado during the 2011-12 season. "High fever and stuff. That was probably my main thing. A little adversity for the team to start off with, but I think we've handled it pretty well so far.

"I'm eager. I miss playing. That's the worst thing, sitting on the side and watching. I'm eager to get back and I'm ready to go."

The Avalanche, who have points in five straight games (2-0-3), were anxious to face Stastny. He hosted a handful of Avalanche players at his house Friday, including former Blues defenseman Erik Johnson and Matt Duchene.

Stastny spent his first eight seasons in Colorado before leaving as an unrestricted free agent during the summer to sign a four-year contract with the Blues.

"A few of us went and saw him [Friday] and obviously any team's going to miss a guy like that when you lose him," Duchene said. "It seems like he's liking St. Louis. It would have been fun to play against him [Saturday], but hopefully he gets back in the lineup soon."

Johnson, who spent his first three seasons in St. Louis, said the Avalanche have moved past not having Stastny as a teammate anymore. However, he is missed.

"We were pretty close; he's close with a few guys in here," Johnson said of Stastny. "I know guys definitely miss him. But he's got to do what's best for him and he thought it was coming here. We respect him a lot. He's a great guy and we think he's going to be a great player here."

Here are the projected lineups:


Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Ryan O'Reilly

Jamie McGinn - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Dennis Everberg

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Maxime Talbot

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Daniel Briere, Zach Redmond

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)


Jaden Schwartz - David Backes - Magnus Paajarvi

Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - Joakim Lindstrom

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Chris Porter, Jordan Leopold

Injured: T.J. Oshie (concussion), Paul Stastny (shoulder)

Status report: Briere will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game. "It's not an easy situation for him," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said, "but I think he understands. He's 37 years old. The reason why we made the trade is the quality of the person. He's an outstanding person. He has great leadership in this room." … Hitchcock said the only forward lines set for Saturday are the ones centered by Lehtera and Lapierre. The others will depend on health. ... Oshie has not skated in four days.

Who's hot: Iginla has 28 goals and 71 points in 64 games against the Blues. ... Tanguay has 43 points in 42 games against the Blues. ... Shattenkirk, a former Avalanche, has three assists in two games and entered Saturday second in the NHL in scoring among defensemen with nine points.

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