It was the first step in the process of returning to the lineup, and for the red-hot St. Louis Blues it will fortify an already solid lineup when Alexander Steen comes back.

Steen, who has missed nine games with a concussion, was a full participant at practice Monday for the first time since he left the lineup during a Dec. 21 game against the Edmonton Oilers due to a concussion.

Steen, who's tied for fifth in the NHL in goals with 24, still leads the Blues with 38 points. He has stayed active since leaving the lineup with the second concussion of his career (he missed 39 games during the 2011-12 season).

"Good ... better," Steen said when asked about his health. "Obviously hanging around the guys again is a big lift in spirits. With these kinds of injuries you tend to fall away from the team, spend time on your own. That's usually the hardest part of having an injury like this. But I'm staying positive, taking steps forward, and enjoying my time with the team [Monday] and the rest of the week.

"Just feeling better so I figured I'd try [to practice]. Basically just try stuff and analyze and see how you feel and go from there."
The Blues, who begin a three-game homestand Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes, have no definitive plan for Steen's return.

"He's been skating on his own so he joins the team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "As time moves forward we'll see when he's ready to play. It's a good sign. He had good energy. I think the guys were real happy to have him back on the ice.

"I don't think you want to read anything into it though until he's declared a player. You could go through this for days; you could go through this for weeks. You don't really know. It's all kind of how he feels."

Steen wore a contact jersey Monday and took shifts with the Blues' top-line trio of David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Jaden Schwartz.