(HockeyStL)-- After missing ten games with a lower-body injury, Blues defenseman Roman Polak could be making his return to the lineup on Tuesday against Phoenix.
Polak has been sidelined since Dec. 21 with what the team termed as a lower-body injury. The injury is believed to have been a slight ankle fracture, but the club did not confirm. The defenseman was placed on injured reserve for the length of his recovery, but could be activated prior to Tuesday’s game.
“We are going to re-evaluate him (on Tuesday),” said Hitchcock. “Hopefully, if he continues to feel good, he is going to get clearance to play.”
Before his injury, Polak had three goals, seven points in 34 games. He is currently one goal shy of his career-high, which came in the 2009-10 season. Polak also has a plus-seven rating on the year. Hitchcock is looking forward to having the defenseman back in the fold.
“(His return) will be really good for us,” Hitchcock said. “He is going to give us a real added boost of energy and physicality that I think we need in our lineup.”
Polak accompanied and skated with the Blues during their three-game trip to Canada and the expectation was that he would return at some point during the team’s upcoming three-game homestand. Polak says he is ready to play in Tuesday’s matchup, but is awaiting word from the coaching staff that he’s a player. That decision will be made after Tuesday’s morning skate.
“I think I have the green light to go,” said Polak. “I don’t know if it is going to be (Tuesday), or the game after. I’m just going to do whatever I can to get back in the lineup and we will see what the coaches decide.”
With Polak’s return, the club will have eight defensemen. The Blues were interchanging defensive pairings in Monday’s practice, but there was no word as to who Polak will replace. The Blues will have to choose between Ian Cole and Jordan Leopold upon Polak’s activation, but since Hitchcock isn’t sure of his decision just yet, he had Polak skate with both players on Monday.
“We used them both,” said Hitchcock. “They were switched up halfway through practice. If one guy plays on Tuesday, the next guy will probably play on Thursday. They’re both playing well and giving us the depth we need.”
The Blues also have Carlo Colaiacovo in their defensive arsenal, but it doesn’t appear he will be a consistent player moving forward, especially with Cole and Leopold playing good hockey. However, Colaiacovo is expected to get some playing time with a heavy schedule ahead.
“(Polak’s injury) has been a real advantage for Ian Cole,” said Hitchcock. “He has really improved, so we have some options. But with so many games every guy is going to play, anyways.”