(HockeySTL)-- The Blues, fresh off a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, will be facing the National Hockey League’s best team on Saturday. The Anaheim Ducks will be in town, boasting the NHL’s highest point total, and the Blues will have some added help to their lineup.
Forward Alexander Steen is making his return at the perfect time for the Blues, as they look for a spark in their lineup. The Blues announced on Friday afternoon that Steen had been activated from injured reserve and would play in Saturday’s game after missing nearly a month with a concussion.
Steen will be making his return after missing the last 11 games with concussion-related symptoms, which were the result of several hits the forward received over a stretch of three games. Steen hasn’t played since Dec. 21, a game in which he left early after beginning to feel the effects of his head injury.
The winger has been skating with the team consistently for the last week, in four of the last five days to be exact, but never put a timetable on his possible return. His recovery began last week when he started skating on the club’s road trip. He rejoined the team on Monday, stating that he felt good and wanted to test it out on the ice in a more intense practice session. The forward skipped Tuesday’s morning skate, then skated Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before declaring himself ready.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told the media not to read anything into Steen’s skating, but it was obvious a return was creeping closer for Steen.
Hitchcock said that Steen will play as much as he can on Saturday, but the club won’t push him to play top minutes if he isn’t ready to do so. Steen was skating with the Blues’ top line as an extra skater on Monday, and could take Jaden Schwartz's spot on that line in his return. Before his injury, Steen was on the top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie. Schwartz took Steen’s spot when he went on IR.
Despite missing 11 consecutive games, Steen is still second on the Blues’ roster in points. His hot start to the season and consistent play made him the NHL’s top player in the early goings. He currently leads the club with 24 goals and is fourth on the team with a plus-15 rating. Steen is also just three goals back of Anaheim’s Corey Perry for second in goals scored in the entire League.
With Steen returning on Saturday, the club assigned forward Dmitrij Jaskin to the Chicago Wolves on Friday morning. Jaskin played in both Tuesday and Thursday’s game with the Blues before being sent down to make room for Steen. Jaskin has played in six games with the Blues this season and has one goal.