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Blues' Oshie returns to lineup against Predators

by Louie Korac

PREDATORS (10-3-2) at BLUES (10-4-1)

TV: FS-TN, FS-MW

ST. LOUIS -- T.J. Oshie was optimistic Thursday morning and it turned out to be well-founded. The St. Louis Blues activated him off injured reserve later in the day and announced he'll be in the lineup against the Nashville Predators.

Oshie, who sustained a concussion Oct. 28 against the Dallas Stars, skated again Thursday prior to the Blues facing the Predators. Oshie, who has one assist in eight games and has missed the past seven, skated for a fifth straight day without any setbacks and said in the morning he felt physically fit.

"I think so," Oshie said. "I've skated the last five, six days in a row now. I feel good out there. I've been riding the bike in here, I've been getting my workouts in.

"Whenever I do go it's probably going to take me a couple shifts. It's usually a period to kind of get your lungs going and get everything back in. I'm as ready as I will be."

Oshie needed medical clearance from team doctors before being activated from injured reserve and placed on the active roster.

"They need me to be 100-percent healthy," Oshie said of the doctors. "If I feel like I'm 100-percent healthy I'll try to be in there [Thursday].

"We're on the same page. That was a miserable first week that I had. If there's any chance that I'm at a higher risk of re-injuring my head or another concussion, I won't come back. But if I feel 100-percent ready and they feel 100 percent that I'm going to come back and not be at any higher risk than any other player, then I'll be back in."

Hitchcock was playing the cautious role earlier Thursday.

"He's been good for about three or four days but we haven't gotten approval from the medical people," Hitchcock said. "Until we get that, not playing. If we get a call in an hour or two hours or three hours after he has conversations with everybody connected, it's kind of out of our hands. If he gets a call, we'll put him in. If not, then we'll just keep going until somebody tells us. It's got to come from the doctors and the medical people before there's approval."

Oshie's return will come where he started the season, with a pair of familiar faces.

"With [David] Backes, right where they were before," Hitchcock said. "Backes and [Patrik] Berglund, the way we were the first two or three games at the start of the year, back to where we started the season, and let's just go from there."

The Predators (10-3-2, 22 points), who defeated the Blues (10-4-1, 21 points) 2-1 on Saturday at Scottrade Center on a third-period goal by James Neal, did not have a full team skate Thursday; only backup goalie Carter Hutton and defenseman Victor Bartley skated. It's become a routine for the Predators in recent games to not skate with a full team or at all on game days. The Predators did not skate at all here this past Saturday.

Here are the projected lineups:

PREDATORS

Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal

Matt Cullen - Derek Roy - Craig Smith

Olli Jokinen - Calle Jarnkrok - Gabriel Bourque

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Taylor Beck

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Victor Bartley

Injured: Mike Fisher (Achilles tendon), Viktor Stalberg (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body)

BLUES

Patrik Berglund - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Joakim Lindstrom

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Chris Porter, Magnus Paajarvi

Injured: None

Status report: Reaves, who missed one game after being hit on the ankle with a shot at practice Monday, will replace Porter in the lineup Thursday. … The Blues assigned forward Dmitrij Jaskin to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. … Wilson injured his groin in St. Louis on Saturday and is day-to-day.

Who's hot: Forsberg has six goals and 10 points during a six-game point streak, including a goal and an assist here Saturday. … Tarasenko has five goals and 10 points during a six-game point streak; Lehtera has four goals and eight points during a five-game point streak; Schwartz has six assists and seven points during a four-game point streak. Schwartz, Tarasenko and Lehtera, now known as the STL Line, have a combined 25 points in six games. … Shattenkirk has seven assists in the past eight games. … Neal has three goals and seven points in the past six games. … Ribeiro has six assists and seven points in the past seven games.

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