(HockeySTL)-- The Blues received winger Jaden Schwartz back for their most recent game against Montreal, but are still waiting for clearance on two other key players.
Four injured Blues players were on the ice for Friday’s optional skate, including David Backes and Vladimir Sobotka. Both Backes and Sobotka are working hard to get back into the Blues’ lineup in the near future.
Sobotka has skated in each of the last three practices, while Backes has been a participant in drills for the last two days.
Backes, who is recovering from what are believed to be concussion-related symptoms, is accompanying the team on its two-game road trip to Canada. The Blues play Edmonton on Saturday and Calgary on Monday. The Blues hope to have Backes in the lineup on Monday, but head coach Ken Hitchcock says the winger is not yet cleared to play.
“He’s moving forward,” said Hitchcock. “I don’t think you want to take guys on the trip if they don’t think they can play. Backes is on the trip to see if he is up and ready to play, but he’s not cleared yet.”
Backes has missed the last two games with his injury, which he sustained from a high hit by Ottawa’s Colin Greening in Monday’s game. The forward was a full participant in Friday’s drills, but is not quite ready to return to action just yet.
“I’m improving every day,” said Backes. “We will see what transpires here over the next while and hopefully I’m an ice hockey play in the near future.”
Unlike Backes, Sobotka will not be traveling with the team. The forward is rehabbing an upper-body muscle injury, and will be given the next two games off to further nurse his wounds.
“Sobotka will stay here,” said Hitchcock. “He’s not going on the trip so we will rehab ‘Vladdi’ here for the two games and see where he is at post-Christmas.”
Expectations are that the Blues will have both Sobotka and Backes back after the holiday break. However, no timetable has been set for either’s return.