ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues welcome the return of Center Oskar Sundqvist and defender Torey Krug from injury on the same night exciting prospect Scott Perunovich will make his debut.
The Blues (8-4-2) will play host to the Arizona Coyotes (1-13-1) tonight, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Enterprise Center.
The past three games have not been kind to St. Louis, dropping their last three, including an overtime loss to the predators on Nov. 11. Since the Blues began the season on a five-game win streak, the team has stalled, going just 3-4-2 since.
What better time to bring in a spark?
“It’s been a long journey.”
Shortly before Tuesday morning’s practice, Blues Center Oskar Sundqvist was welcomed back to the ice to the tune of stick taps and a hug from teammate Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tonight, Sundqvist will hit the ice for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair an ACL injury back on April 6, 2021.
A knee coupled with a hip issue has kept “Sunny” off the ice and in rehabilitation for over six months.
The Blues have missed him.
From 2018-2020, Sundqvist appeared in 131 games, totaling 54 points, but Blues Head Coach Craig Berube says fans shouldn’t get caught up in his center’s stat production.
“He plays that north game. He drives the engine,” Berube explained. “When he was playing with us, he was one of those energy guys… He definitely plays the game the right way.”
Perhaps even more importantly, Sundqvist has missed the game.
“It’s been a while. I wouldn’t say I’m too nervous, yet,” Sundqvist said. “Obviously, you’re excited to be back. It’s been a long time. I just want it to be 7 o’clock so we can start playing.”
Sundqvist says his knee feels ready, but he needs to remind himself to trust it.
“I’m just excited to be back and to be around the guys again.”
Tonight, Blues Defender Torey Krug makes his return to the ice following a short stint off the ice due to COVID 19.
Krug and teammate Brayden Schenn were placed on the non-roster COVID protocols list on Nov. 5 ahead of a matchup against the Anaheim Ducks. Since Krug and Schenn’s departure, the Blues have won just one game, amassing a record of 1-3-1. Krug has not enjoyed watching from afar.
“It’s tough when you have no control over it, when you can’t put in your two cents or hold your end of the rope,” Krug said. “Our guys have been right there the last two games. We just need to close out regulation so we can get some points.”
His desire to play was felt by many, including Coach Berube. When his availability was called into question, Krug made it clear he wanted to be back on the ice.
“We discussed playing tonight, but he pushed. He really wanted to play,” Coach Berube said. “Yesterday he skated, he did quite a bit and he felt good.”
Coach Berube, the team and, certainly, Blues fans will welcome back Krug’s puck movement and power play with open arms.
“We want to put him in the best spot to be successful.”
Well said as Coach Berube awaits his first opportunity to send a prized prospect out on the ice for the first time.
Following a Monday recall, Blues defender Scott Perunovich will make his NHL debut tonight.
The exciting prospect from Minnesota-Duluth has dazzled for years, winning two NCAA championships in college before starting his pro career in 2020. Despite missing most of last season due to a shoulder injury, Perunovich wasted no time shining in the AHL, amassing a league-high 20 points (2 goals, 18 assists) before getting the call from St. Louis.
Like any debut, nerves will be running high, but, fortunately, for the young defender, teammate and fellow defenseman Torey Krug has some words of advice for the debutant.
“Play simple. Play fast. Usually, your first read is the right one,” Krug said. “We’ll be in there helping him out, and I’m sure he’s going to do a great job.”
From teammate to coach, the tone may sound different, but the message is the same. Coach Berube expects his young player to perform, but he hopes to put him in the best position to do so.
“I think it’s going to be different for sure. Training camp is training camp. the regular season is different,” Coach Berube said. “He’s got great vision, obviously, and his puck play is high end, so I expect him to move the puck well and he has to defend.”
Fans attending the Enterprise Center will have plenty to watch when the St. Louis Blues host the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. tonight.