Near end of spirited practice, both suffer undisclosed injuries in drill
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Another fast-paced practice that featured plenty that coach Ken Hitchcock and the Blues were pleased with suddenly took a wrong turn.
While participating in a short-game drill of one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three players at different times, forwards Alex Steen and Andy McDonald -- both in separate, heated battles -- were suddenly taken off the ice with injuries.
Steen was first, suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury and seconds later, McDonald got tangled up with teammate Vladimir Sobotka, with McDonald going down writhing in pain before going off the ice and not placing any weight on his left leg.
Steen left the ice and momentarily sat on the bench before leaving on his own power. McDonald also left on his own power but gingerly and not placing a lot of weight on his leg.
The Blues on Tuesday evening recalled forward Andrew Murray from their AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen under emergency conditions.
The locker room was a bit subdued and fairly quiet afterwards and Hitchcock had no immediate update afterwards.
"We won't know until tomorrow," Hitchcock said in a media session. "Both guys fell in the last drill there, so we'll see in the morning."
When asked if it was serious, Hitchcock was non-committal Tuesday.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll know tomorrow."
The Blues' coach continued when pressed on it in a more stern manner.
"It happens. It could happen anytime," Hitchcock said. "They could lose an edge, but let's not get all wound up until we see what it is. Let's evaluate it tomorrow and see what it is.
"It happens. ... It happens. It's not the end of the world, okay? Injuries are part of the game. Why don't evaluate tomorrow when we see where these guys are at."
McDonald and Steen make up the Blues' second line along with Chris Stewart and account for 27 points, with Steen leading the team with 15 points. It was at the end of a spirited practice for the second day in a row in which the Blues were looking for more tempo leading up to Thursday's game with the Chicago Blackhawks, who are unbeaten in regulation (16-0-3).
"Unfortunately when those two guys went down kind of took out from another really good practice," Hitchcock said. "We'll see where they're at tomorrow. We had a lot of fun, guys were working hard, we're really accomplishing a lot here, so hopefully we can take a good lineup into the game on Thursday."
The Blues have used the last two days to put some extra pep in their step, and aside from the unfortunate turn of events near the end of Tuesday's practice, they feel like they're ready to tackle the beast known as the Blackhawks.
"But I've really liked what we've done the last two days. We've really embraced. We've tweaked a couple changes, guys have really responded with some good play, kind of got good continuity going with the lines. We'll see if we can keep it up."
"I think we're really getting better," Hitchcock said. " ... (The tempo) is really good right now. It's unfortunate, like I said, that thing happened at the end. What are you going to do? But man, the tempo was good today, really good ... even better that it was yesterday, so that's a good sign."