(HockeySTL)-- Paul Stastny’s first game back following his stint on IR wasn’t picture-perfect. But it wasn’t expected to be.
“(He looked) behind,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Not up to pace yet but that’s to be expected. He will get better as he moves on. I thought as (Thursday’s) game went on he got better and better.”
Thursday was Stastny’s first game since Oct. 18, a 17-day hiatus for the forward after sustaining a shoulder injury in Arizona. The forward had been skating for more than a week with the team, but due to the close proximity of games, none of those practices had been full-speed.
“He hasn’t even practiced,” Hitchcock said. “He has skated and worked, but we haven’t had any hockey practices so he hasn’t been able to participate.”
“I was doing a bunch of skating, but just getting back into game shape is something you can’t equate to what you do in practice,” Stastny said. “That was the biggest adjustment. I have to build that muscle back up.”
Stastny had 15:37 of ice time Thursday against New Jersey and was a minus-two. That 15:37 became his lowest total of the season, excluding the game in Arizona which Stastny exited after one shift. The Blues held a full practice on Friday, which Stastny said was great.
“Friday was good,” said Stastny. “The injury was tough because we haven’t had any practices because of a lot of games. But a full practice was good.”
Stastny said he was hesitant early against New Jersey, but found his legs after his first few shifts.
“Once you get into that first game, you take a couple of hits, a couple of bumps and you are little tentative at first,” he said. “Once you get into the heat of things, you don’t think about it. You might feel something but you just skate.”
Saturday’s morning skate was optional, so there were no line combinations during the practice. However, judging by the combinations put together by Hitchcock on Friday, Stastny will have a substantial role against Nashville centering Alexander Steen and David Backes.
Hitchcock was non-committal on whether or not that would stick for Saturday.
“I’m not sure which way I am going to go,” Hitchcock said. “It was an off day, a practice and I wanted to try something different.”
Concussed forward T.J. Oshie has been at Scottrade Center several times in the past three days. He was walking around the rink on Thursday and skating on Saturday.
"He came for a visit so that's a good sign,” Hitchcock said on Thursday. “He's out, walking around, there's a sighting. It's a good sign, but he is nowhere near getting close to playing."
Oshie, who sustained the head injury on Oct. 28 in Dallas, had not been seen around the team until this week. He has missed the last five games and won’t play on Saturday, though he did suit up and skate prior to the team’s morning practice.
According to Hitchcock, Oshie is indeed progressing, as evidenced by his appearance on the ice. The forward isn’t close to returning.
“A little bit,” Hitchcock said when asked about Oshie’s progression. “He’s still a ways away yet. He’s certainly not ready to join us yet. It’ll be a while.”