Robert Thomas moved up to the Blues’ second practice group Monday at the Centene Community Ice Center, a sure sign that he’s marking strides in terms of his rehab and recovery from offseason wrist surgery.
“He’s feeling a lot better,” coach Craig Berube said. “I thought he got through practice fine.”
With the exception of about a half-dozen players who headed to Dallas on Monday afternoon for the team’s preseason opener, the second group contained most of the returning players from the Blues’ Stanley Cup championship team.
Thomas ripped off some wicked shots in practice, a sign that his surgically-repaired left wrist is doing fine.
“Yeah, he’s shooting the puck well,” Berube said. “But it’s the other stuff. The battling and things like that, that you gotta be careful of. We’ll just take it day by day and when he’s ready he’ll let us know.”
But Berube wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Thomas sees action in exhibition play.
“We got a lot of games yet in the preseason,” Berube said. “So he’s got time yet. We’ll see.”
Until Monday, Thomas had been skating with the Blues’ third group, a smaller in numbers unit consisting mainly of players ticketed for juniors or San Antonio, or players coming back from injury.
KYROU, KASPICK RETURN
Speaking of coming back from injury, Jordan Kyrou was back on the ice after missing practice Saturday and Sunday due to soreness resulting from kneecap surgery. He was with the third group, under the direction of San Antonio coach Drew Bannister on Monday at Centene.
Also on the ice Monday was prospect Tanner Kaspick, a forward who spent most of last season with San Antonio. Kaspick suffered concussion symptoms in the Blues’ first game at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Mich. 10 days ago. He missed the final three games in Traverse City, as well as the first three days of Blues training camp.
For players such as Austin Poganski, Mathias Laferriere, Michael Vecchione and Jake Dotchin, all of whom are in the lineup tonight in Dallas, they’re getting a rare opportunity to impress the boss _ Berube. They may only get one or two chances during the preseason to play in a game.
“That’s true. But we got eight games,” Berube said. “So it’s a good chance they can play more. But you’re right _ one or two games are maybe all they’re gonna get, so they gotta show something.”
As such, the Blues’ preseason opener gives Berube a chance to look at possible depth players down the line.
“We got a lot of young guys in there,” Berube said. “Again, I talk about our depth is important, and throughout the whole season. So a lot of these guys could be good depth guys for us. Who knows? If they play well enough they could maybe get a spot. Depth’s really important for sure.
We’re gonna look at that and just get into our game. Try and instill our game through these preseason games _ what kind of team we want to be and working on that and getting to that.”
Most of the top scorers will be missing from the Dallas lineup in tonight’s game. Here are the lines and pairings as provided by the Stars: