As the Blues’ season grinds on, hitting another low Monday without the team even playing a game with news that Alex Pietrangelo and Robby Fabbri would be out for most of December, at best, interim coach Craig Berube decided the team needed something different.
So after the team had an off day Sunday, Berube and his staff tried to promote a fun vibe at Enterprise Center in a rare afternoon practice Monday. The plan was lots of head-to-head competition and battling in short ice drills.
“When you’re not winning, it is (hard to have fun), so you have to create some,” Berube said. “These guys, they’re frustrated, like us coaches and everybody else. It’s important that they can come and have some fun and not think about the standings right now. Worry about it when game time rolls around and right now come out and have some fun and so some good drills that are going to help you.”
So while it may have been fun and games with players fighting for pucks in close quarters, there were lessons involved, too. Also, with the injuries and the call-ups from San Antonio not having arrived yet, the Blues were low on players anyway.
“The guys love to play that two-on-two stuff and battles and things like that,” Berube said. “There are a couple drills that are getting to the net and boxing out around our net but are still fun competition drills and it’s fun to have some fun with the guys but still have some structure and do some things that are going to help us in the game, too.”
Arizona’s Michael Grabner posted a picture on Instagram on Sunday of his face after he took a stick to the left eye from the Blues’ Sammy Blais on Saturday. The eye was bloody, swollen and mostly closed though, he proudly noted, his mustache escaped unharmed.
“It was a bad luck play,” Blais said Monday. “I texted him and he was doing better so hopefully he’ll be back on the ice.”
Blais was battling with Arizona’s Brad Richardson along the boards and Blais’ stick went up, catching Grabner and sending him right to the ice, where he stayed in pain. The referees initially missed the hit but after they consulted with the linesmen, Blais got a double minor for high sticking. The Blues killed off all four minutes of the penalty.
“I saw the replay after the game and it’s just bad luck,” Blais said. “I got hooked and then the guy lifted my stick right in his eye. … I knew my stick had touched something but I didn’t know it was that high. He’s doing better now, so that’s the main point. I was happy for him.”
Arizona has said Grabner will be out indefinitely and has been placed on injured reserve.
Blues forward Robert Thomas was not among the 34 players invited by Hockey Canada to its tryout camp for the world junior championships. It was not expected that the Blues would loan Thomas to Canada for the camp, which starts Dec. 10 in Victoria, B.C., but the decision to let him play at the tournament wouldn’t have to be made until the NHL Christmas roster freeze deadline of Dec. 19. Thomas said his preference would be to stay with the Blues. No other Blues draft picks were among the players invited. … Arizona goalie Adin Hill, who was in goal for his team’s 6-1 win Saturday, was one of the NHL’s three stars of the week, adding to the list of players who have been honored in part for their performance against the Blues. It’s the sixth time this season a player has been one of the league’s players of the week in part for his play against the Blues.