Perron to Return Saturday
David Perron will officially make his return Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. He missed 97 striaght games after taking a hit from Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks on November 4th 2010.
If the Blues could only get fully healthy.
This is probably the most common phrase heard around the St. Louis Blues this season. Hard to argue the team wouldn’t look better with the likes of Andy McDonald, B.J. Crombeen, and David Perron joining a roster that’s as hot as any team in the league.
Speaking of Perron, there’s a chance we see him play as early as Saturday when the Blues host Chicago. As if the 19,150 fans inside the Scottrade Center need further incentive to be excited for a Blues , Blackhawks showdown.
It will also create some interesting coaching decisions for Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. As I reported on twitter @andystrickland, Hitchcock told me last week he intends to play Perron with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart.
Hitchcock has been told Perron and Berglund work well together and that’s the first look he’ll go with. On paper this should automatically become the Blues top scoring line but Berglund and Stewart have gotten off to slow starts. Part of the issue is the fact they cycle the puck to death, one of them needs to decide who the shooter is going to be. In fairness their line did score the game winning goal in Washington with Matt D’Agostini stuffing it in.
But where does Perron returning leave a player like D’Agostini or Vladimir Sobotka?
Hitchcock surprised me a little bit when I asked him about this Thursday after practice. He says he’d like to put Sobotka back at center with D’Agostini playing on one side. There’s a chance Ryan Reaves could join them but Hitchcock says he’s also considering playing Reaves with Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner. Hitchcock says he’d even consider Scott Nichol with Langenbrunner and Arnott.
This will be interesting to see once we get there. It goes without saying the David Backes line featuring T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen will remain intact.
A pretty smart veteran Blues player told me earlier this season that in order for the Blues to be successful Alex Steen needs to play a top-six role. Hard to argue with his thought process.
In reality this line is more like a checking line that can score as opposed to your typical top offensive unit. They not only check the opposition to death but they can also hem you in your own end for much of the game. They’ve consistently shown the ability to outplay some of the top players in the world over this recent stretch. You won’t find too many number one lines that work as hard as these guys do.
The addition of Perron will obviously increase the expectations of Berglund and Stewart. Fans will need to be patient with Perron considering his time off but assuming they stay together these three should eventually become the Blue most dangerous line.
Sobotka by the way will play Friday in Colorado after missing two games with a facial injury. He’s been fitted with a customized bubble that he’ll likely play with against the Avalanche. Sobotka took a puck in the face last Friday against Calgary that required about 14 stitches inside his mouth and another 20 on the outside. Doctors also pulled a tooth that was knocked loose from the impact.
Alex Pietrangelo, who missed Thursday’s game in Washington, was “sick as a dog” according to his teammates. He didn’t practice Thursday but is expected to try and skate Friday morning. If he can go he’ll likely be paired back up with Ian Cole who saw his ice time significantly drop off with Pietrangelo out of the lineup.
Perron didn’t make the trip because of altitude concerns. The Blues didn’t want the altitude to create any imbalance in Perron’s system. He did see a few shifts with Berglund and Stewart during practice as well as receiving some 5-3 power play work.
Hitchcock says Perron can’t return until he has zero reservations about playing again. Once he’s in, there will be no holding him back according to the Head Coach.
Hitchcock also declared once he returns the 5-3 power play “will run through David Perron.”
Perron was feeling under the weather over the last few days which could possibly delay his return.
D-man Carlo Colaiacovo skated for the second straight day on Thursday and is probably looking at next Tuesday against Detroit as his return date.
The Blues PP could use him as they continue to struggle scoring goals. There’s little need to try and score within the first ten seconds of the PP and the Blues could use a little more patience to allow everyone to get to their appropriate spots.
This is a big day for Kevin Shattenkirk and Stewart as they return to Colorado for the first time since being dealt. Both these guys are very tight with several members still on the Avs Roster.
Erik Johnson told me earlier in the week that he expects to return from his groin injury Friday against the Blues.
More to come,
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