After missing the last 15 games with an upper-body injury, Blues forward Alexander Steen will be making his return to the lineup Tuesday against Colorado.
“The last two days we kind of thought we would try it on Tuesday as long as everything went good today and it did,” said Steen.
The forward has been sidelined since Feb. 20 after being checked into the boards in a game against Arizona. The team only listed Steen’s injury as “upper-body” but it looked like it may have been a shoulder issue that kept the winger out for the last month.
“When you are out and know it is going to be a while, it is always tough,” admitted Steen. “First couple of days aren’t too bad as your everyday life is good but then you step on the ice and realize it’s not as good as you thought.”
Steen has been practicing with the rest of his teammates for several weeks now, though mostly with restrictions. Monday was the first full practice he was able to participate in and that is all the forward needed to declare himself ready for a return.
“I think it’s like any other injured player,” said head coach Ken Hitchcock. “We are going to have to give him so space and some time to get up to speed.”
Prior to his injury, Steen, who has the second-most points on the team (47) was moved to the center position between Patrik Berglund and David Backes. That is where he is slotted for Tuesday’s game.
“Jump back into where I was before,” said Steen. “I really enjoyed it before and I’m excited to jump in and try to get back where I was before.”
“We are really, really happy to have him back,” said Berglund. “He’s a good guy in the locker room and outside.”
Steen’s return comes at a perfect time for the Blues, who have won four straight and have already clinched a postseason spot.
“He’s going to have to get used to being in on everything so we might as well get him little pieces of it moving forward,” said Hitchcock. “It’s like I told him, you have to keep playing to win here. Points for home ice are the next objective.”
With 17 goals on the season, Steen is one of the Blues’ top scorers and the team is hopeful he will be able to get up to speed before the regular season ends. The forward has six games to work his way back, though he doesn’t expect it will take much time.
“I wasn’t really concerned with how many games I was going to play before the playoffs,” said Steen. “I was concerned with feeling well enough to play again and here we are.
“The lower body still worked fine so I was fortunate to still be able to ride the bike and skate and really push myself. Body feels great and legs have been itching to go for a while.”