ST. LOUIS -- With the Blues dealing with a rash of early-camp injuries to significant players, general manager Doug Armstrong was asked if it alters the course of action for the team that has six preseason game remaining before the Oct. 4 season-opener.
"I would say the next three games, and that's why I'm hoping we get some 5-on-5 play in these games, is going to be a real good indicator for some of our younger players," Armstrong said. "It's a business where you're judged by wins and losses so we had a meeting with all our pro scouts in here. Let's make sure we're watching the players around the league because you don't mind as a management staff going into a season with the glass half full on a player or two. You don't want to go in hoping that six or seven of your players the glass is half full and it's going to work out.
"We're going to see some real good evaluation from some of our younger players and from some of our veteran players who can step in. The Sanford injury, whether we had him on our team, that's gone. (Patrik) Berglund, another player we had on our team, he's gone. These aren't short-term injuries; these are long-term. We're at three weeks before re-evaluation on a couple other players and we've played two of our eight preseason games. If this was next Sunday, I might give you a different answer, but it's today and we have six more games and knock-on-wood, we don't have another injury, but we have to be doing our job as pro scouts to make sure we understand what's going to be available."
The Blues play at Washington on Friday, host Dallas Saturday and play at Pittsburgh's practice facility in Cranberry, Pa. on Sunday in the Kraft Hockeyville game.
Sanford(Dislocated left shoulder) will miss 5-6 months, Steen(left hand) and Bouwmeester(fractured left ankle) will be re-evaluated in three weeks, but that puts the first week of the regular season in jeopardy for them. And the Blues are already without Berglund, who is out until December with a dislocated shoulder injury of his own sustained during offseason training.
"Time should be the tonic that they need," Armstrong said of Steen's and Bouwmeester's injuries.
The Blues have had a number of young players — Samuel Blais, to name one — stand out in the early portion of camp.
"Traverse City really caught our attention," Armstrong said of younger players. "I thought water found its level as camp went along a little bit."
The Blues made five more cuts Thursday, reducing their training camp roster down to 44 (39 not counting the injured players, which includes goalie prospect Luke Opilka) by assigning forward Alexey Toropchenko to juniors (Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League), forward Justin Selman and defenseman Dmitrii Sergeev to the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage, and they released forward Ty Loney and defenseman Michael McKee from their professional tryouts.
It's getting close to that time where the Blues combine groups and begin working with one.
Yeo said a number of guys will play two of the three games this weekend, and a number will play back-to-back games.
"We want to keep a number of guys around through this weekend and we'll reassess from there," Yeo said. "The big thing for me is once we get through this weekend, I would say that you start thinking, 'Who is not going to factor into a game, and who do we not need for practices to make sure that we have enough numbers for the group.' Obviously that's where some decisions will come into play.
"I think we're going to see guys start to separate themselves. As camp goes on, typically what you see is the veterans continue to elevate their game. From here, we'll see who can keep up with that and who starts to drift off and fade to the background. I'm excited. Going into two very tough buildings this weekend and the chance to play in front of our home crowd again. Three games in three days, it's going to be a busy schedule. There's going to be a little bit of fatigue, but we want to see who can still think and play and execute in tough conditions like that."
Blais and defensemen Vince Dunn were given Thursday off after both played in Tuesday and Wednesday preseason games.
Blues forward Robby Fabbri returned to practice Thursday after missing Tuesday's game at Dallas, one he was expected to play in.
Fabbri, who is coming offseason rehab from a torn left ACL, has been a regular contributor in camp but was held out for precautionary reasons on Tuesday.
Yeo was asked if he could play Friday.
"I need confirmation, but (he) got through a pretty tough skate today," Yeo said. "Ideally, I would like to get him in, but we want to make sure we're smart about it, too. If I get the thumbs up, then he'll be in."
Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm, dealing with a shoulder ailment, also hasn't played a preseason game but practiced on Thursday.
"I have to get the thumbs up on that one, but we decided to hold him out the first couple games to make sure and just to be a little more cautious," Yeo said of Lindbohm. "We're certainly getting to the point right now where it's time for him to get in the lineup as long as he's healthy. I'm anticipating that he is. That's what we thought was going to happen before the past few days. Hopefully that's still the case."