ANAHEIM, CALIF. - Today at the Honda Center, the Blues had 16 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies on the ice.
That adds up to 26 players, which means the club had every player on its NHL roster in skates at one time. That includes Alex Steen, Matt D'Agostini and Kris Russell, who are out with concussions. It also included David Backes, who was questionable with a foot injury; Andy McDonald, who has a shoulder injury; and Jason Arnott, who missed the last two games with a few bumps and bruises.
"It's a good start," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We'll see moving forward how it all turns out. But it was good news. It was expected news. We had planned for this. We're still in various stages of repair, but they were able to participate fully in practice the first 50 minutes and go from there."
Perhaps the most anticipated arrival was that of Steen, who was wearing a red no-contact jersey and a tinted visor, which seems to be the norm now for players coming off concussions. McDonald and David Perron both wear them as well.
Steen has been in Anaheim receiving treatment for his concussion. He met the team at the Honda Center, and while he didn't talk after practice, his teammates said he was his lively self, chirping anyone within earshot.
"It's fun to have him back," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "He definitely brings a little more life back into this locker room believe it or not. He keeps things light. I think we all missed having him around. He seems like a little boy going back to school for the first day."
Steen wasn't the only one wearing a red jersey today. D'Agostini, who's been out since Feb. 7, and McDonald also had them on.
"That red line was pretty good today," Backes joked.
Of those three, the Blues only expect to get McDonald back soon. He is progressing nicely after suffering a shoulder injury last week in Carolina. The timetable for Steen and D'Agostini, however, isn't any more clear today than it was yesterday.
"They obviously had high energy, all three guys," Hitchcock said. "Andy McDonald was flying around the ice, Steen was flying around the ice, D'Agostini was flying around the ice ... we're still in the conditioning phase on some guys. I don't know. I try not to get excited. I think sometimes you can hope for players to come back in, then they reach and certain stage and never get there, and you're disappointed.
"When the sweater changes color for any of those three guys ... they can get some games in and we can evaluate them from there."
The Blues' lineup Wednesday against the Ducks is expected to be similar to Saturday's lineup in Tampa Bay with a couple of exceptions.
Arnott will be back in uniform, after Hitchcock gave him a week off to rest his minor injuries. He was centering a line today with Vladimir Sobotka on the left and Chris Stewart on the right.
"I feel way better," Arnott said. "It's just nagging injuries. You want to rest and get healed. You don't heal as quick as you do when you're 20 years old. It was nice to get a break, but it will be nice to get back in the mix."
Russell, who has been out since Feb. 23, could also find himself playing Wednesday. He was not wearing a red jersey today.
"We're just waiting the word on Kris Russell," Hitchcock said. "We're running another conditioning test with him today to see if he's 100 percent. If Kris is good, he'll be available. We're not going to get all the help back, but we have the potential to get quite a bit of help back tomorrow."
Meanwhile, a player who figured to miss some time will remain in the lineup. Backes left Saturday's game after blocking a shot with his left foot, but after two days off, he was on the ice today and showed no signs of the injury.
"Yeah, no complaints," Backes said. "It's a work in progress, the training staff has been great. If you're going to play all the games, you're going to have some bumps and bruises that you have to play through. This is one of those occasions."
Backes' string of 185 consecutive games played will remain intact after all.