In electing to stay out of the Blues' lineup one more game, forward Andy McDonald is using the team's schedule to his advantage.
McDonald is close to returning from a concussion that has kept him out 23 games so far, but by sitting out tonight against Colorado, he will have three more days of preparation before the Blues play Edmonton on Friday. Coming off the All-Star break, that's a combined eight days he's had to work out while missing only one game.
"First and foremost, when you come in, you want to be able to contribute," McDonald said. "Personally, I don't feel I'm at a point where I can contribute. Maybe in some areas, but I need to get some practice under my belt and still keep working on my conditioning, and get some strength back, so when I do come in, I can help."
McDonald, who had nine goals and eight assists in 25 games, went through his first full practice with the team since returning to the ice. With forward David Backes missing practice Monday after returning from the All-Star game, McDonald centered Backes' line with Alex Steen and Matt D'Agostini.
"It was a good practice," McDonald said. "I know I was able to skate last week on the road with the team, but those were just more 'morning skates.' Today, I got a little bit more accomplished with some structured stuff. I feel good."
Blues coach Davis Payne called Monday's practice for McDonald progress.
"It's taking each step and making sure that the body responds positively, and it's done that," Payne said. "Today was another full day for him, another good day for him. We consider that progress. We'll see how that lines up for (Tuesday) and on through the week."
McDonald said that preparing himself to play again after missing two months with a concussion is more difficult than offseason training.
"Training camp, you've been working out all summer, doing your off-ice stuff," he said. "This, you go from six or seven weeks of being completely inactive to trying to get in shape again. So it's been a little bit difficult in that regard."
McDonald insisted that when he returns to the lineup, he wouldn't be worried about the chance of another concussion.
"Unfortunately, I've been through it before and if it happens, it happens," he said. "I think it was seven years since my last one, so I'm not worried about it. You just have to get yourself ready to play and do all the things you normally do and not hold back."
He is continuing to wear the M11 helmet, a project set forth by NHLer Mark Messier to help reduce the impact of head collisions.
"It's supposed to have a little bit more padding to it," McDonald said. "Everything they're telling me is that it's supposed to help, so we'll give it a try and see how it goes."
JOHNSON LOSES TEETH
Blues defenseman Erik Johnson left practice early Monday after being hit in the mouth by a deflected puck on a power-play drill.
"We had to dig a few teeth off the ice and get some repairs," Payne said. "These things have a lot of differing degrees of severity here. We know he's lost a few teeth. He's getting assessed here and we don't know the exact extent of it."
Johnson wasn't the only one hit in the face by a puck in Monday's practice. Payne took a puck off the left side of his jaw and had some swelling.
The Blues recalled forward Philip McRae and defenseman Nikita Nikitin from Peoria on Monday after sending the two players to the Rivermen last week. The team also re-assigned forward Stefan Della Rovere to Peoria.