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Blues' Steen excited to finally return from injury

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau understands a thing or two about what the St. Louis Blues are getting with the addition of Alexander Steen to their lineup Saturday.

"I think he's a big addition, and 24 goals doesn't hurt adding to your lineup," Boudreau said. "It solidifies, I think, a lot of their lines. Now they can have back their 1-2-3-4 instead of mixing and matching [lines] a little bit."

Steen will return for the Blues (32-9-5) after missing 11 games with a concussion. He skated on a top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie at the team's morning skate Saturday.

"I took it at my own pace," said Steen, who has 38 points in 35 games. "I feel like we're ready to go. I think everybody who [returns] has to be 100-percent confident. It's not just the way I play. Once you're in you've got to go back in and play."

Steen is tied for fifth in the NHL with 24 goals. The Blues went 8-2-1 in his absence but are glad to have one of their best two-way players back in the lineup.

"We're all really excited to get him back," Jaden Schwartz said. "He's a huge part of our team. It's nice to see his health back for sure. To get him back in the lineup, he's going to be a big boost. He plays in every situation and is a big leader on this team. Having him back is going to make us more confident."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.

"He's had a great year. He's been our best player," Hitchcock said of Steen. "He's in great shape right now. I think we're going to play him as much as he can handle and hopefully he can get up to speed right away and play the minutes that he did before and contribute the way he did before. He was a huge impact player for us.

"He's felt good for a week. It's time to get going."

Two of the top teams in the Western Conference will be meeting Saturday under unusual circumstances -- both are coming off losses. The Blues lost to the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 Thursday at Scottrade Center, while the Ducks (36-9-5) saw their string of 18 wins in 19 games snapped with a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

As has been the case in back-to-back sets this season, the Ducks will make Teemu Selanne a healthy scratch Saturday. Selanne played Friday in Chicago.

Here are the projected lineups for the Ducks and Blues:


Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Jakob Silfverberg

Kyle Palmieri - Saku Koivu - Andrew Cogliano

Patrick Maroon - Mathieu Perreault - Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin

Mark Fistric - Bryan Allen

Frederik Andersen

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Teemu Selanne, Daniel Winnik, Sami Vatanen

Injured: Luca Sbisa (hand), Viktor Fasth (muscle inflammation), Sheldon Souray (wrist)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Brenden Morrow - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi - Derek Roy - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Carlo Colaiacovo, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Maxim Lapierre (lower body)

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