The Blues got some good news on the medical front for a change as Sammy Blais returned to the lineup and Tyler Bozak returned to practice.
Blais spent the weekend on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, missing the Blues game on Saturday with San Jose, and remaining on the list on Sunday. But on Monday, he was gone from the list and back in the lineup after a false positive test.
“So we can use him,” coach Craig Berube said. “He’s back. We’re fortunate there. We escaped one, which is good. We need the bodies right now.”
With the initial positive test for Blais came some concerns that the coronavirus, which the Blues had been able to avoid since resuming their season, had gotten into the team, but there are no signs of that. The Blues had been the last American-based team without a player on the COVID list. With Blais cleared, the Blues, along with most of the league, are back to having no one on the list.
“We got that information (about Blais) yesterday,” forward Oskar Sundqvist said. “He got isolated as soon as he got that first positive test and then had two negatives. Ray (Barile) and the trainers did a great job with everything and keeping everyone as safe as possible. We have our trust in them and it’s a terrific job so far.”
“It’s a sigh of relief,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said.
While the Blues have stayed clear of trouble this season, they had an issue with it last season, when four players and a coach tested positive and the team had to briefly shut down its training facility at Centene Community Ice Center.
As for Bozak, he joined the Blues on the ice for the morning skate, the first time he has skated with them since he suffered an apparent concussion when knocked down by Vegas’ Mark Stone on Jan. 26. The game Monday with the Kings was the 12th he had missed and there will be more. He’s probably several days away from returning, if there were no lingering side effects after he resumed skating.
“We’ll see after practice how he felt,” Berube said. “We’ll go off of that. Hopefully he doesn’t have any issues. If he feels good, then he can get more of a practice tomorrow and keep building off that, and we’ll see where he’s at in a couple days.”
“Whenever we get guys back, it’s great to see,” Bortuzzo said. “It’s nice to have them out there.”
Room with a view
The Blues were no different from many hockey fans, tuning in to get a look at the NHL’s two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border over the weekend.
“I think it’s a little better view there than we have in Sweden,” Sundqvist said. “I watched a little bit of the Colorado game. It would have been weird to start playing the first period and then have to wait seven hours to play again. Looks like a beautiful place to play. Looks awesome for those guys.”
“I caught about 10 minutes of the Philly-Boston game and actually happened to see four or five goals, so I saw a good chunk of it,” said Bortuzzo. “Cool for the league to put that one. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it.”
Of course, not all the injury news is good. Defenseman Colton Parayko (back) missed his third game and left wing Jaden Schwartz (lower body) missed his fifth. Neither, however, have been placed on injured reserve yet. That left the Blues with only one healthy scratch on Monday, defenseman Niko Mikkola. … The return of Blais meant back to the taxi squad for Jake Walman, the defenseman promoted to forward on Saturday because the Blues had only 11 healthy forwards. Bortuzzo has been in that situation before where he was a seventh defenseman inserted into a forward spot at times. “I think they know I’ll do anything called upon,” Bortuzzo said. “It’s kind of always been like that for myself here. It’s always just kind of been a mentality of just doing what’s asked of me and right now, it’s trying to play solid defense and contribute.”