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Blues center Lehtera to make preseason debut

by Staff

St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera will make his preseason debut Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET, NHLN).

Lehtera had surgery on his right ankle Aug. 4 and the expectation was he would need 6-8 weeks to recover.

"I think I'm good to go," Lehtera said Wednesday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "For sure I want to play one game before the season starts and tomorrow is the last one. I feel good about it. I didn't believe when I had the surgery I would get even one game in."

Lehtera had 14 goals and 44 points in 75 regular-season games last season, and two assists in five Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo also will play his first preseason game Thursday. He has been out because of an undisclosed injury.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he was looking forward to seeing where both players stood with final roster decisions approaching.

"I'm not sure where Bortuzzo's at," Hitchcock said. "Lehtera, he's been skating for three weeks, skating for almost 10 days with us. He looks more than ready. There's going to be some rest, some situations you have to get through [but] he looks more than ready.

"Because of the push of younger players, it's extended the evaluation process. You get that many young players pushing for work, it's a nice problem to have. But it creates a little bit of a problem. I was looking at other teams, they're down to five lines, eight [defensemen], two goalies, and we're still sitting here at 33 players."

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