D'Agostini and Russell Back Skating for the Blues
Slowly but surely the St. Louis Blues are getting healthy. Yesterday we had a report that Jamie Langenbrunner has resumed skating as he recovers from a broken foot and today we have a new report that Matt D'Agostini and Kris Russell are back skating with the Blues, sporting red no-contact sweaters. The Blues could have a few healthy bodies back in the lineup in the very near future. Knock on wood, the Blues are getting healthy again and at just the right time. Following a decisive win against the Chicago Blackhawks and six wins in their last seven games, the news that players like D'Agostini, Russell and Langenbrunner are all on the mend seems like a wealth of good fortune. It's worth noting that Langenbrunner is still feeling discomfort while skating, so his return is still a couple weeks away, but the fact that he and his fellow injured teammates are making positive strides is extremely encouraging. Now that Russell is back skating, the Blues have eight defenseman at their practices. Kent Huskins is a bit banged up with a wrist injury and Russell will need a bit more time to shake his symptoms of a concussion, but the fact remains that the Blues may soon have a wealth of defenseman at their disposal. I don't envy the decision Ken Hitchcock will have to make when it comes to deciding who will get the nod and who will have to take in a game from the press box. This idea branches into a potential negative - chemistry. The Blues have been on an absolute run for several weeks. They have done it with essentially the same cast of characters. Guys like D'Agostini and Alex Steen have been out of the mix - will reinserting them into the lineup have ill effects? It's easy to think that once they return they will bring about huge things offensively and take this team to a higher level than it's currently at. On the flip side, the rust and lack of time on the ice with their teammates could have a reverse effect, causing the Blues to not act as a complete unit as it has for the last couple months. The old saying goes, "if it's not broke, don't fix it". On paper, guys like Steen and D'Agostini are upgrades when healthy. However, when it comes to the intangible aspect of the game, guys like Chris Porter have gone above and beyond to help the Blues to victory all without ever scoring any goals. This chemistry and balance is tough to put a finger on and something Hitchcock will have to be extremely careful when tinkering with. For better or worse, Hitchcock still has time before he has to make these decisions. D'Agostini and Russell still have to be cleared for contact and then still have to prove they can sustain contact. Steen is still in California getting treatment for his concussion. We may be jumping the gun worrying about chemistry considering none of these guys have any set time as when they might return. Still, it's something to consider as the Blues move ever closer to the end of 2011-12. Do they really want to make massive lineup changes with what they have going right before the playoffs?