(HockeySTL) -- The Blues’ forward corps is closing in on full health with a couple of its members taking steps in their respective recoveries.
Injured forwards Jori Lehtera and Chris Porter were both present at Scottrade Center Saturday morning as the Blues held an optional skate. Though they weren’t on the ice with the rest of their teammates, both players skated prior to the practice, working with trainer Ray Barile. Both appear to be closing in on a return, though neither will play Sunday against Chicago.
For Lehtera, who has been battling concussion symptoms for more than a week, it was the first time being visible on the ice since sustaining the injury on Jan. 29. He did some one-on-one drills with Porter and the team will monitor his status in the coming days. Albeit a good sign, the Blues aren’t ready to re-insert him into the lineup.
“He’s not in (Sunday),” head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It’s a good sign that he was skating, but he’s not playing.”
Lehtera has missed the last five games and prior to Saturday hadn’t been spotted around the team. Hitchcock said Friday that Lehtera has had a good last few days, but it’s unknown if he is currently symptom-free.
Porter, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Dec. 29, is expected to join the rest of his teammates on the ice in the near future, perhaps as soon as next week.
“Hopefully in the next few days I can start skating with the guys,” said Porter. “I have taken big strides over the last week.”
Porter injured his leg five weeks ago during a play along the boards, near the teams’ benches. The forward has not watched the replay of the play that resulted in the injury, but said he knew immediately something was wrong.
“As soon as it happened, I knew something was wrong,” said Porter. “I felt it kind of pop. I knew right away that things weren’t good.”
Prior to the injury, Porter had been playing a more consistent game with the club. Known as an extremely durable player, this is the first injury Porter has dealt with in his pro career. And it had poor timing.
“I’ve never really been hurt so it’s something I’m not used to and it took a big adjustment,” said Porter. “It was the first game I have had to miss since injury since I was a little kid. I think my wife was ready for me to get out of the house so she’ll be happy when I start playing again.
“Probably the toughest thing was getting in the lineup and playing well and then something like that happens. But that’s the game of hockey. Injuries happen. Hopefully I have done whatever I can to rehab and come back stronger.”
The forward hopes to ramp up the activity in the coming days in order to test out the injury. If all goes as planned, a return in the next week wouldn’t be out of the question.
“He skated well today,” said Hitchcock. He is getting closer and closer to rejoining the full group.”