ST. LOUIS - Just when the Blues were starting to get healthy and getting close to having Jaden Schwartz back, another player went down with injury.
Alex Pietrangelo is the latest “victim,” as Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk put it. It was announced Monday that Pietrangelo was placed on injured reserve and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Pietrangelo, who ranks first on the club in ice time (26:40) and fourth in the League overall, will be a big loss.
Here’s what the Blues are saying about it:
Brian Elliott: “It’s a huge loss. You never want to lose anybody, but he plays close to 30 minutes a night. Whenever you lose a guy that like, that’s going to change the dynamics back there a little bit. We’re going to have to work it out and make sure guys play their role to the best of their ability. We can’t hang our heads on any injury, and this one especially. We’ve got to step up and it’s next man in.”
Patrik Berglund: “It’s very big, obviously. We’re going to miss him out there, but at the same time, we have a job to do. We’ve got a very good (replacement) entering the lineup as well. We’re going to go out there, do our best and try to steal those two points.”
Kevin Shattenkirk: “It’s been tough for us. We’ve been clawing and trying to get back. It’s weird not knowing what your full lineup looks like on the ice. Hopefully this is the last one and come mid-March we can hit our stride going into April, May and June.”
Colton Parayko: “Obviously it’s something that will be a big hit to us. He’s playing big minutes, the most on our team, so losing a guy like Pietrangelo is huge. He plays very effectively. It’s going to be tough to pull the weight that he does, but we have a strong defense here, so I think we can come together and do that.”
Robert Bortuzzo: “It’s hard to replace a guy like that. We’re different styles of players. He plays big minutes and he’s a big part of our team, so collectively, we’re going to try to eat up some of those minutes and spread them out. It’ll be a big test here.”
No one player is going to replace Pietrangelo. Collectively, the Blues defense knows the whole group will have to bear the burden, and that’s the plan for tonight vs. Winnipeg (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX) and for the remaining three weeks that Pietrangelo is expected to be out.
“You have to always prepare yourself to be ready for it. It’s not something you can get ready for last minute,” Shattenkirk said of stepping up for injured players. “You have to keep your body ready and keep it in shape. There have been times this year where you have to do it because guys go down in-game. We’ve all handled it well. I don’t think it’s going to be just me bearing all of that, I think there’s going to be a lot of other guys that are going to have to play more minutes.”
Fifty years ago today, on Feb. 9, 1966, the NHL awarded the city of St. Louis a franchise despite not having a suitable owner. The League gave the city an April 5 deadline to come up with an owner to purchase the team - a deadline Sid Salomon and his son, Sid Salomon III, met to secure hockey in St. Louis.
Bob Plager and an original season ticket holder will drop the puck before tonight’s game to commemorate the anniversary.
The Blues will celebrate their 50th season beginning with Opening Night in 2016-17, where many former Blues legends will be back for the occasion.
Today’s morning skate was optional, but here are tonight’s projected lines - obviously subject to change. Ryan Reaves is expected to draw back into the lineup, replacing Dmitrij Jaskin.
Schwartz, who remains skating, is getting closer to returning but will not play tonight.
Patrik Berglund - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Scottie Upshall - Alexander Steen - David Backes
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Troy Brouwer
Magnus Paajarvi - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo
Tonight marks the 15th meeting between the Blues and Jets since the franchise returned to Winnipeg. The Blues have lost just one of those meetings in regulation (11-1-2). The Blues are 5-1-0 at home against the Jets, including a 3-2 win in Winnipeg’s last trip here on Nov. 16.
The Jets are 23-26-3 and sit last in the Central Division with 49 points. Tonight, they’ll be without their goal-scoring leader in Drew Stafford, who was suspended one game by the Department of Player Safety for a high-sticking incident.
Brian Elliott is 5-0-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .926 save-percentage in his last six starts against the Jets.
Vladimir Tarasenko has multiple-point efforts in three straight games vs. Winnipeg (four goals, three assists).