The St. Louis Blues, who are currently in the midst of a road trip, had a very encouraging sign hours before their 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings to improve to 28-15-7. It was that four of their injured players returned to practice one of which for the first time since October.
That player is Jaden Schwartz.
Schwartz, who fractured his left ankle on Oct. 23rd, went through the motions while on the ice for first time in nearly 13 weeks, and seemed to be moving just fine. The injury had occurred when while taking part in a warmup drill prior to a game. After he shot a puck and attempted to get the rebound by reaching for it, he crashed into the net which was being defended by goalie Brian Elliott.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, while not speculating on when Schwartz will officially return to the Blues lineup, at least was optimistic having his overall team getting healthy again. The veteran had tallied a total of 28 goals and 35 assists last season, and thus far has four assists and a plus-4 rating in seven games this season.
“Getting players back gives you depth so we’re not counting on the same two or three guys,” Hitchcock told the Blues’ website during practice on Wednesday. “We’ve managed a very challenging season really well,” he added later on. “We can’t have the attitude that, ‘Now they’ve come back, they can do the job now, our work is over.’ They’re just going to get added to the mix.”
The three other players close to returning are Robert Bortuzzo, Carl Gunnarsson, and Magnus Paajarvi.
Paajarvi, 24, has two goals and three assists in 32 games played this season. The rising star has missed the past four games due to a lower back injury. Gunnarsson, who has also missed time due to a lower back injury, is eligible to return for the Blues next game, which is against the Colorado Avalanche. The same can be said for Bortuzzo.
Having these players back creates more depth for the Blues, and with the new year in full swing, gives them the chance to kick things into a whole new gear, as they strive to ascend atop the Central Division.
(Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com)