Columbus is playing well of late...this will be a good test to see where the Blue are on the road to recovery.
There were some signifcant personnel situations to observe at the Blues’ practice at Scottrade on Monday. For one, dentally-challenged forward Keith Tkachuk was back on the ice, skating full bore. Tkachuk had not skated since scoring the rarest of goals in last week’s loss to Chicago - a goal off his mouth.
After getting hit in the mouth with a slapshot, Tkachuk required numerous anesthetic needles, stitches and root-canal construction work as he suffered four broken toofers, and the total could rise to five downed teeth. Tkachuk was scheduled to see the dentist again after practice on Monday because one of the teeth the doctor was trying to save is giving him fits.
Word has it the Tooth Fairy temporarily has refused service to the Tkachuk household over concerns about handling such a large order.
“It was tough,” Tkachuk said. “It was rough for three or four days there. But it feels better, getting some work done and … what are you going to do?”
Tkachuk added: “I go 18, 19 years without losing any teeth and then I do it pretty much at the end of my career. That’s a little frustrating, but it’s surprise that it didn’t happen sooner.”
Tkachuk called the injury the “worst thing” that has happened to him injury-wise in a career of parking in front of the net. For two days he was unable top eat anything other than protein shakes, and lost weight as a result. He remains in some discomfort, and faces more dental work down the road. Initially, he was taking some pain killers but quit taking them because they made him feel “groggy.”
On the positive side, the goal was career No. 534 for Tkachuk and allowed him to pass Frank Mahovolich and move into 30th place on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list.
“He can have it,” Tkachuk said, with a ginger smile.
Tkachuk felt good after practice, but said it was too soon to say if he would be in the lineup when the team plays host to Columbus on Tuesday.
On the other hand … forward Paul Kariya declared himself ready after practicing with the team. Kariya has been missing since Dec. 27 when he took an elbow to the head in a loss at home to Buffalo. He has eight goals and 11 assists. Kariya liked what he saw on the trip west.
“I thought we were really good in San Jose and Los Angeles -we played a perfect road game, ” Kariya said. “(The Kings) didn’t have much chance to generate offense. We broke them down and then scored some goals in the third period and won the game. We have to bring that kind of game at home.”
And on the other, other hand … Andy McDonald did not skate with the team on Monday and looks to be out of the lineup for Tuesday, if not longer. McDonald suffered an injury during the 4-3 win at Los Angeles that coach Davis Payne described as “mid-body.” McDonald appeared to be bothered by something in the hip or stomach area while on the bench in L.A. He played only 9 minutes 22 seconds.
“It’s one of those things we’ll re-assess daily,” Payne said. “It was just something (that happened) along the wall. Nothing in particular in terms of one specific mechanism, but one turn the wrong way and he finds himself in that situation.”