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Blues Predators Hockey

Blues center Oskar Sundqvist plays against the Nashville Predators on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The prognosis on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist’s foot injury is, well, sunnier than expected.

“It’s better than we thought,” coach Craig Berube said before the Blues’ game at home against Pittsburgh on Saturday night. “It’s not going to be long-term, it looks like. It should be a lot better than we thought.”

When asked if Sundqvist’s status was week-to-week, Berube said: “You can call it whatever you want. That’s fine by me.”

But would week-to-week be correct?

“That’s a pretty good term,” Berube said.

Sundqvist suffered the injury Wednesday in Tampa Bay and was placed on injured reserve on Thanksgiving. He spent the rest of the Blues’ trip on crutches with a walking boot on his right foot.

The Blues were braced for the worst after the injury, but said they wanted to wait until Sundqvist was examined by team doctors before saying much more. So even before the Blues beat the Penguins 5-2, Saturday was a good day for the team.

“Yes, that was good news that he’s not going to be long term,” Berube said.

Because he was placed on IR, Sundqvist is not eligible to return to action for a week after that designation. That means the earliest game he’d be eligible to play would be next Saturday, against Toronto.

Before the Toronto contest, which is in St. Louis, the Blues play at Chicago on Monday and at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

“(Sundqvist) might come on this trip with us and he might go on the ice” for practice, Berube said. “We’ll see.”

Meanwhile, there was progress to report on veteran forward Alexander Steen. He suffered a high-ankle sprain Nov. 6, with the team announcing at the time that he would be re-evaluated in four weeks.

The four-week mark comes Wednesday, but Steen made progress Saturday by doing some skating.

“Not very long, but he was out there,” Berube said.

Bortuzzo’s ban is overThe Pittsburgh contest Saturday marked the last game of Robert Bortuzzo’s four-game suspension for cross-checking Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson in the Blues’ 4-2 loss to the Predators on Nov. 23.

Before the Blues’ game in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Bortuzzo declined to comment on the suspension. But he did say: “You never want to see anyone get hurt. That’s never my intention.”

The first game of the suspension came Monday in Nashville, with perhaps the loudest boos of the night coming when the public address announcer at Bridgestone Arena announced Bortuzzo as a scratch for the Blues.

Even before the suspension, Bortuzzo was rotating in and out of the lineup with fellow defenseman Carl Gunnarsson. So Bortuzzo has appeared in only 11 games for the Blues this season, but has played well. His best game might have been the team’s 5-0 victory over Calgary on Nov. 21.

Goaltender Jordan Binnington thought so much of Bortuzzo’s work in that game that he gave him a stick tap to the pads and thanked him for his work the next day in practice.

Same lineupOther than Binnington in goal instead of Jake Allen, the Blues used the same lineup against Pittsburgh that they employed in their 3-1 victory Friday in Dallas. That meant Derrick Pouliot was back on the third defensive pairing with Justin Faulk, replacing Gunnarsson for the second game in a row. Faulk scored in the opening period, his first goal of the season.

When asked if Gunnarsson was still sick, Berube replied: “He is a little bit, I guess.”

All-star voting beginsFor the fifth straight season, fan voting will determine the four division captains for the NHL’s All-Star weekend, set for Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis.

Fan voting is open online at NHL.com/Vote and via the NHL App, and concludes at 10:59 (St. Louis time) on Dec. 20. The top vote-getters by division will be named all-stars and division captains, regardless of position.

Fans are permitted to select as few as one player and a maximum of four players per ballot. The maximum number of ballots than can be cast over a 24-hour period is 10 per voter.

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