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Stastny skates, but won't play on Tuesday

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Semyon Varlamov, Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny

St. Louis Blues center Paul Stastny, front, looks to pass the puck as Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, back left, and goalie Semyon Varlamov, of Russia, watch during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Center Paul Stastny skated with his team on Tuesday morning wearing a cage to protect a deep cut on his left cheek, but said after practice that he wouldn't be able to play tonight against New Jersey.

Stastny said he was hopeful he could play on Thursday, though coach Ken Hitchcock labeled Stastny, who he called day to day on Monday, as week to week.

Stastny said he's feeling better each day and that he's not in the concussion protocol though his head hurts.

"I'm not playing tonight," Stastny said. "Hopefully, everyday's gotten a little better. I'm still a little foggy, I feel like little things in my head here and there, so I'm not going to risk anything until my head's cleared up. So if everything goes well, practice tomorrow, play Thursday. It's one of those things, where I'll take it day by day."

Stastny said the problems were caused by nerves that run through his cheek and are leading to headaches. He has two layers of stitches in his cheek, one on the inside, one on the outside, and he said it took a doctor about 25 minutes to stitch him up after the injury, which occured when a pass by Alexander Steen deflected off an Anaheim player's skate and rocketed up, catching Stastny in the cheek. As bad as the injury was, it could have been worse. If it had hit higher, his eye could have been damaged. Lower and it would have hit his jaw.

"I felt good (today)," he said. "A couple times, once I get my heart rate up, I start feeling a headache, it gets a little foggy a bit. The last thing I want to do is be out here at full speed and not make decisions like I normally do and hurt myself and more importantly hurt my team."

While Stastny seemed optimistic about playing Thursday against Carolina, Hitchcock was taking a more cautious approach.

"I think we've got to wait on that," he said. "It was hurting a little bit today, so we'll see. ... We'll see where Stas is at. Hopefully he is playing Thursday, but I'd rather pulling him back. He didn't feel great after the skate.

"It could have been way worse. Whoof, it could have been way worse. Lucky. You're looking at getting a puck there, as painful as it is, it's the best-case scenario. The absolute best-case scenario happened to him. There were five other scenarios that could have happened to him that we would have really been long term on this."

Stastny said playing with a cage won't be a problem, since he wore one in college and prior to that. He said he expects he'll have to wear the cage until the All-Star break to protect the cut.

LINES

The Blues had an optional morning skate on Tuesday, but Hitchcock said they would use the lines and pairings that they used in practice on Monday. That puts some players in different roles, such as Scottie Upshall moving up from the fourth line to the first line. 

"We'll just have to adjust to the competition," Hitchcock said. "There's some unknowns. We're pulling people from fourth-line roles into first- and second-line roles. We'll see how they handle it, then we'll make adjustments. We've got some flexibility with good play on our fourth line right now. That line is bringing a lot to us, so we've got an opportunity for those guys to move up the ladder. We'll figure it out."

Forwards

Scottie Upshall-Alexander Steen-Troy Brouwer

Robby Fabbri-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Patrik Berglund-David Backes-Ty Rattie

Dmitrij Jaskin-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Kevin Shattenkirk-Alex Pietrangelo

Chris Butler-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

Goalie

Brian Elliott

DEVILS

Forwards

Sergey Kalinin-Travis Zajac-Kyle Palmieri

Joseph Blandisi-Adam Henrique-Lee Stempniak

Tyler Kennedy-Jim O'Brien-Paul Thompson

Bobby Farnham-Stephen Gionta-Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen

Andy Greene-Adam Larsson

David Schlemko-Damon Severson

Marc-Andre Gragnani-Jon Merrill

Goalie

Keith Kinkaid

REINFORCEMENTS ARE READY

Forward Ty Rattie and defenseman Chris Butler rejoined the Blues in Monday's practice and will be back in the lineup tonight.

Rattie had two assists in five games with the Blues before being sent back to the American Hockey League in early November. In 29 games with the Chicago Wolves this season, he has nine goals and 14 assists, sharing the team lead with 29 points. In addition, his plus-minus rating is even.

"Whenever I go down, I have to work on consistency, bringing that game in and game out," Rattie said. "I have to come up and play that two-way game. Hopefully I can prove that going forward."

Butler was impressed by Rattie while the two were in the minors.

"Ty's been good, he's tremendously gifted offensively, got a heck of a shot," Butler said. "He just needs a little gap, a little space. When he gets hot, he scores goals in bunches. He's looking for that chance to break through."

Butler, meanwhile, played in only two games - including one at forward - before he was assigned to the Wolves at the same time as Rattie.

"It's frustrating, but you kind of take it one day at a time, try not to think about what happens here, what could happen," Butler said. "Unfortunately for some guys here, there's been some injuries but I knew that being part of this group, you need a lot of depth. ... It seems like with this team, it's been injuries all season. For me, I still have a tremendous passion for the game, still love competing, that part has never left. It's a comfortable group to be around, make it easy, make it light, make it fun, guys do a good job of setting a good example and it's easy to slide right in and jump into the fold."

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