(HockeyStL) -- It was Alex Steen on Thursday and Vladimir Tarasenko on Saturday. Now it could be Andy McDonald’s turn to return for the St. Louis Blues after missing more than three weeks due to a knee injury.
McDonald is hopeful to play against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
“The plan is to play (Tuesday). I’m feeling pretty good,” McDonald said. “It’s been a difficult injury to recover from, especially for me, I rely heavily on my skating. The knee is a tricky part and you need it for everything you do so it’s been tough, but I’m really excited to be back.”
David Perron and Patrik Berglund skated alongside McDonald during Monday’s practice, but for Ken Hitchcock, it isn’t a done deal that McDonald will return Tuesday.
“Not yet. We’ll see in the morning how he feels,” Hitchcock said. “Today was really the first time that he has participated with 20 guys on the ice. He has always done more individual work so if he feel fine tomorrow and feels confident then we’ll look at putting him in, but I wouldn’t even want to guess right now until we see how he is in the morning.”
Hitchcock added that the decision will come from McDonald whether he plays in Vancouver.
“In the end he’s the one that makes the decision,” Hitchcock said. “I think putting pressure on a player or having the player feel like he’s pressured to be able to go on the ice is not a good thing at all.”
Another sign pointing to the return of McDonald was the send down of Adam Cracknell to the AHL-affiliate Peoria Rivermen.
Cracknell, who got the call-up when the injuries piled on the Blues in late February, posted two assists in eight games played for St. Louis.
“I think the difficult decision was sending a guy like Adam Cracknell down,” Hitchcock said. “That was a very difficult decision because we understand numbers and everything like that, but that was hard because he was a good player for us. He just didn’t come in and fill a spot. He came in and filled a role and did a hell of a job to fill in the role.”
Another player nearing a return is T.J. Oshie, who was injured March 12 against the San Jose Sharks. The 5’11”, 194-pound forward was placed on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury Wednesday and will not be available for Tuesday’s game.
But he isn’t ruling out a possible return this weekend.
“I don’t think there’s much I can do to it,” Oshie said. “As long as the boys aren’t running me through the boards, I think I’m pretty much fine. I just got to get some strength back -- that’s all.”
It will once again be a tough call for the coaching staff once Oshie returns.
“I actually said to (David) Backes today, looking around at the lines and who all is playing well, it’s going to be hard to find a spot to fit me in here,” Oshie joked.
The Blues will embark on a three-game road trip starting Tuesday with stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary before returning home to play the Oilers on March 26. Nine of the next 12 games will be played on the road for St. Louis.