The big test for Blues rookie Tyson Nash wasn't the baseline neuro-psychological test that he had to pass before being cleared to return from a mild concussion.
Rather, it was the big hit Calgary's Jason Wiemer delivered at 18 minutes 41 seconds of the second period in the Blues' 1-1 tie with the Flames on Tuesday at Kiel Center.
Wiemer, a 6-1, 225-pound center, leveled Nash, sending the 5-11, 195-pound winger crashing to the ice.
Wiemer received a penalty for cross-checking, and Nash suffered no residual effects from the mild concussion that he sustained in successive collisions with 6-5, 238-pound Eric Lindros and 6-5, 230-pound Chris Therien on Dec. 5 in Philadelphia.
"If I passed that test with the Wiemer hit, I can pass any test that they give me. He caught me pretty good," said Nash, who admitted to feeling "a little tentative" early in the game. "After I got my first hit, I thought, 'I'm in it. I feel good.' It was like old times."
Nash, 24, was his usual pesky self Tuesday, drawing penalties and driving the Flames to distraction. At one point in the third period, defenseman Bobby Dollas body-slammed Nash to the ice without drawing a penalty. Nash called the takedown, "a WWF move, like 'Stone Cold.'"
Nash started the game on the Blues' fourth line with Craig Conroy and Jamal Mayers, but he took some shifts on the top lines later. He led the Blues with five hits.
"He got in on the forecheck and got his hits," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You notice him back in the lineup, that's for sure."
Nash sat out three games after scoring poorly on his baseline neuro-psychological test Dec. 6, the day after the Flyers' game. That was the one-year anniversary of the Blues' announcement that Geoff Courtnall was suffering from post-concussion syndrome. Courtnall has since retired.
The Blues didn't take any chances with Nash, who plays a physical game and is often the target of opposition cheap shots. Quenneville said the team erred "on the side of caution."
Although Nash would have liked to return Saturday against Dallas, he said that sitting him out for the extra game shows that the Blues care about their players' health and well-being.
"I like that," he said.
Defenseman Al MacInnis was concerned about the health and well-being of Calgary defenseman Derek Morris on Tuesday, after one of his slap shots hit Morris below the helmet on the back of his neck with 13:37 remaining. Even as play continued, MacInnis skated to Morris' side.
"I was making sure he was OK," MacInnis said. "I wanted to see if I hit him on the jaw or the eye or something. Once I knew I didn't hit him on the face, I figured he'd be OK. You never want to hurt anybody."
MacInnis' shots have injured many players, but the injuries usually are broken bones in the feet or hands. His 100 mph shots generally stay low, but this one was uncharacteristically high.
"The puck stood right on end when I hit it," MacInnis said. "Pavol (Demitra) gave it to me, and it tipped up and was standing on end. When you hit it like that, it's like a knuckleball. It moves all over the place."
Morris did not return to the game.
With three days between games, the Blues held only an off-ice workout on Wednesday morning. In the afternoon, they had their annual team Christmas party with family and friends.
Blues captain Chris Pronger remains the leading vote-getter among defensemen in balloting for the North American All-Star team. Pronger has 163,126 votes, 2,000 ahead of Los Angeles' Rob Blake.
MacInnis ranks fifth in the voting behind Pronger, Blake, Boston's Ray Bourque and Detroit's Chris Chelios. Blues center Pierre Turgeon also ranks fifth among centers, trailing Detroit's Steve Yzerman, Philadelphia's Eric Lindros, Colorado's Joe Sakic and Dallas' Mike Modano.
Among World All-Stars, the Blues' Roman Turek is third among goalies behind Buffalo's Dominik Hasek and Carolina's Arturs Irbe. Demitra is eighth among wingers.