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Schwartz returns, to play with Steen on Blues' top line

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues got some good news on the injury front.

Left wing Jaden Schwartz, who missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury, will return to the lineup when the Blues (22-7-4) host the Montreal Canadiens (21-12-3) on Thursday at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz, who is fifth on the team with 22 points, including 12 points in his previous 12 games, skated for the first time Wednesday and deemed himself ready to return after the Blues went 0-1-1 with him out of the lineup.

"I feel better so I'm going to go [Thursday]," Schwartz said. "No excuses now. I've just got to go play like I would any other night.

"I just tweaked something a little bit ago and it just got worse. I needed to rest it. It's a long year so I didn't want to keep making it worse. A few days of rest has definitely helped. I got a lot of work on it. I definitely feel better for [Thursday]."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will put Schwartz on the Blues' top line with Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie.

"I'm not only comfortable. I know how him and Steen play together," Hitchcock said of Schwartz. "This is the first time we've played them together since the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs. I'm really curious and excited to see if they've got that chemistry they had in [the playoffs] against [the Los Angeles Kings]. It'll be fun. They're going to have a big task playing against the line we hope we get to match them up against. I think they're excited to play together. If we keep this together, and we'd like to keep those two guys playing together, I think we're going to see great tempo from those guys."

David Backes (upper-body injury) and Vladimir Sobotka (upper-body injury) remain sidelined. Backes skated prior to the rest of the team with injured players Jordan Leopold (hand) and Ryan Reaves (hand). General manager Doug Armstrong said Backes is day-to-day and the team will consult with the training staff to see where they go next.

"It's always a good sign," Armstrong said. "I think this was how we saw it moving forward because we didn't put him on [injured reserve]."

Sobotka took part in the morning skate Thursday but Hitchcock said he's not ready to return.

"He's not ready to play through it. He's not ready to go," Hitchcock said of Sobotka. "He hasn't had a full hockey practice. [Sobotka's] not ready to go. He's probably at about 50 percent where he needs to be."

One significant lineup change for the Canadiens has Ryan White, who has not played in five of the team's past 10 games, in the lineup and veteran Daniel Briere as a healthy scratch.

"We want more intensity," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "With better intensity we think we could upgrade the speed, and it starts with intensity. We believe we could be better."

The projected lineups for the Canadiens and Blues:


Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust

Travis Moen - Michael Bournival - Ryan White

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Douglas Murray - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Daniel Briere, Francis Bouillon

Injured: George Parros (concussion)


Jaden Schwartz - Alexander Steen - T.J. Oshie

Chris Porter - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Brenden Morrow - Maxim Lapierre - Adam Cracknell

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: David Backes (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (upper body), Jordan Leopold (hand), Ryan Reaves (hand)

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