Nothing regarding injury returns is certain yet, but it does appear that some players will return to the St. Louis Blues' lineup when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
Based on practice participation and coach Craig Berube's comments on Monday, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see defenseman Torey Krug and forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Logan Brown on the ice when the Blues conclude their seven-game homestand Tuesday. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo seems less likely and forward Pavel Buchnevich, a surprise no-show at practice Monday, is a complete question mark.
As has been the case the last couple of times he's been asked, Berube said Krug and Tarasenko are looking game ready to him. He's just waiting to hear that from the players themselves. Both players participated fully in practice Monday morning and even worked with the first power play unit.
"They both seem good, but kind of wait and see," the coach said.
Krug has been out since suffering a lower-body injury in St. Louis' last game before Christmas. Tarasenko (hand injury) hasn't played since New Year's Eve.
Brown, who was taken off injured reserve last week and has been out with an upper-body injury since last playing Dec. 29, also was a full practice participant Monday. Berube said he'd prefer that Brown get more practice time before he returns to the lineup, but he may not have that luxury.
"I would like him to get some more work in practice with us, but I'm not sure if we have that opportunity," he said. "We'll see. We might need him tomorrow."
The Blues sent Steven Santini back to their AHL affiliate in Springfield on Sunday, an indication that at least one veteran defenseman could be ready to go. It probably won't be Bortuzzo, who has missed St. Louis' last seven games with a lower-body injury. Berube indicated it would be helpful for Bortuzzo, who practiced Monday, to hold off a bit longer.
"I don't think he's too far away. ... I don't see any issues with it right now," Berube said. "I think he needs more practice, though."
Buchnevich's absence Monday was notable considering he played almost 22 minutes in the Blues' loss to Chicago on Saturday and hasn't missed a game since mid-December. The 27-year-old forward is nursing a lingering lower-body injury. Berube said he wouldn't know anything more about Buchnevich's availability until later Monday.
Coverage of Tuesday's game begins at 6:30 p.m. on Bally Sports Midwest.