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Blues determined to persevere through key injuries

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Believing they were on the cusp of having a healthy roster, the injury bug has hit the St. Louis Blues once again.

This time, there's an uncertainty pertaining to the length of time the five players who sustained injuries last weekend will miss.

Goaltender Jake Allen (lower body), and defensemen Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) and Carl Gunnarsson (upper body), are considered week-to-week, meaning the Blues will be without their No. 1 goaltender and two of their top four defensemen when they face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; MSG+ 2, FS-MW).

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Left wing Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) is also week-to-week. Center Paul Stastny (upper body) is day-to-day and could play against the Devils, though coach Ken Hitchcock said Stastny could turn into a week-to-week injury and were awaiting reports from Blues doctors.

Allen, Stastny and Bouwmeester were injured during the Blues' 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. Gunnarsson and Paajarvi were injured Saturday in a 2-1 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Blues recalled forwards Ty Rattie and defenseman Chris Butler from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Monday under emergency conditions. Goaltender Jordan Binnington was recalled from Chicago on Saturday.

The Blues are already without injured forwards Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle) and Steve Ott (hamstring), but Schwartz, who has started skating, is expected back after the All-Star break.

"It's been that type of season," said Hitchcock, whose team begins a four-game homestand against the Devils. "We've battled through this thing. Nobody's feeling sorry for us in the League. We've got to get points and we've got to finish this thing strong.

"We're lucky we get a nice week-long break at the All-Star break, which will add healing time on any of these guys that are extended time, but in the meantime, we've got seven games to play and we've got to get points. Some seasons, we've been really fortunate around here to be able to stay relatively healthy. Well this is one of those years where we've got to absorb quite a bit. We've just got to keep going."

The Blues (24-14-7, 55 points) had key players missing good chunks of games in the first half of the season and were able to persevere.

Schwartz was injured Oct. 23 at practice and has missed 38 games; Ott has been out since Dec. 5 and has missed 18 games; Stastny missed 16 games with a broken foot sustained Oct. 16; defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk missed 10 games with a groin injury he aggravated Oct. 13; rookie forward Robby Fabbri missed six games after sustaining a concussion Oct. 10 and forward Patrik Berglund missed the first three months of the season after shoulder surgery Aug. 28.

"Another wave of adversity, but we've got plenty of capable bodies," captain David Backes said. "We'll patch the holes and shoulder a little more load throughout the lineup and we'll keep pushing on.

"I don't think we're isolated with injuries. Other teams got guys going down. Hopefully, the majority of [the Blues' injuries] are short-term and we'll roll bodies back [Tuesday] or in the next few games. ... We'll just do what we can on the ice, bind together and keep going."

Brian Elliott, who's been the Blues' No. 1 goalie every season, will take the reins while Allen, who assumed the role of No. 1 this season, is shut down. Elliott came up big for the Blues on Saturday to end a 11-game losing streak (0-9-2, which included 0-5 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs) at Staples Center.

"I think we're all in the same boat right now," said Elliott, who holds the Blues record for shutouts with 21. "There's a lot of key guys that are down. ... We have to play the right way as a group every time we're out there. That's been our goal.

"When you're down a few guys, I think you come together even more."

Hitchcock said there's no hesitation regarding Elliott, who is likely to play all seven of the Blues' games leading up to the All-Star break.

"He's such a competitive guy," Hitchcock said. "I think it's a good fit for us right now. When you see him compete every day, practice games or whatever, even pregame skates, guys rally around that. Especially when you're down a notch roster-wise, guys rally around little things around that.

"I thought he rallied us in L.A. and the guys rallied around him. It was nice to see; I think we're going to get that. I think he's really looking forward to carrying the ball here. I'm really confident that he's going to play awful well every night and gives us a chance to win."

The Blues entered Monday in third place in the Central Division, but have been linked to a number of rumored trades in the past few weeks. Injuries to several key players may keep general manager Doug Armstrong, who was unavailable for comment Monday, from making any roster moves.

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