Frustrated Blues could get shot in the arm with Schwartz return
ST. LOUIS — The frustration from another embarrassing outing on home ice for the St. Louis Blues spilled over into practice on Monday as defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Zach Sanford got into a fight during a battle drill.
The tussle took place at the end of practice. The players were separated by assistant coach Steve Ott.
“Guys are frustrated and they should be,” Blues interim coach Craig Berube told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Sometimes in practice it boils over and things happen. … They do care. I know these guys care, and that’s what happens because they do care and want to be successful.”
Blues forward Pat Maroon looked at it as a positive.
“You’ve got to enjoy it,” Maroon told the Post-Dispatch. “That’s part of hockey, right? We’re still teammates. Sometimes people get heated and frustrations build up. I love that stuff. I think it’s great. That’s me though. I don’t know if anyone else likes it.”
The Blues, fresh off a 6-1 drubbing against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, hope to take that fight into their next game as they host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
And they could be getting back forward Jaden Schwartz for the game. Schwartz has missed the last 11 games after getting hit in the hand by a shot from teammate Vladimir Tarasenko in a Nov. 16 game at Vegas.
“I’m feeling better,” Schwartz told the Post-Dispatch. “This last week, I’d say I’ve made strides. We’ll see how it feels in the morning, but I feel like I’m getting close.
“We’ll see how it feels in the morning and try a couple more things out and then make a decision right after that.”
The Blues also made a change in the nets, as Jordan Binnington was called up from AHL-San Antonio after the loss the Vancouver loss. Backup Chad Johnson has been put on waivers.
Berube would not say whether Binnington or starter Jake Allen, who was pulled on Sunday, would start against the Panthers.
The Blues have lost three of their last four games. St. Louis lost both games against Florida last season.
The Panthers enter the game off a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Rangers. They have also lost three of their last four games.
Panthers left winger Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists to reach 301 career points in 413 NHL games in the loss.
“We got one point, but obviously we need two points,” Huberdeau told NHL.com. “I think we had nine points out of 16 at home. So we just have to take the positives of it and go on the road. Make sure we’re ready to go in St. Louis (on Tuesday).”
Florida came out slow, but overcame a two-goal deficit to force overtime against the Rangers.
“We had chances to win the game, but they did,” Panthers center Aleksander Barkov told NHL.com. “So we’re not happy because of that. We’re happy with how we played. … In this league, if you come out the way we did in the first period, it can cost you the whole game.”