It seems like there is new St. Louis Blues injury news every day. In some cases, it’s good news like Vladimir Tarasenko or Tyler Bozak skating with the team. In most cases, however, there is another name being added to the ever growing injury list. It’s getting hard to keep up with who is out, how long they’re out and how the team’s play has been and will be affected. So, let’s run through the details of all the St. Louis Blues’ injuries.
St. Louis Blues’ Injuries to Forwards
Barbashev left in the third period of the Feb. 18th game against the San Jose Sharks after taking a shot to the ankle. The Blues announced Tuesday that he underwent surgery on his left ankle and will be re-evaluated in six weeks. That would mean he would be re-evaluated around the second week of April.
Before his injury, he was one of the most versatile players on the team. If other players were playing well, they could stick Barbashev on the fourth line and he would perform well. If Barbashev was playing well, they would move him up and he would still be able to play well. He had six points in 17 games, averaging 12:21 of ice time.
The Blues don’t have a lot of players with that kind of versatility. Instead, they’re stuck with moving Zach Sanford up. Having Sanford up that high has led to some terrible mistakes. Including the game he left, the Blues are 1-2 without Barbashev. When you look at the Blues’ injuries at forward, Barbashev’s name doesn’t stand out as much as the others, but it should. Missing Barbashev is a bigger deal than a lot of people realize.
Schwartz missed the Feb. 13th game against the Arizona Coyotes with a lower-body injury and he’s been out since. He was in the lineup the night before so it’s possible that he was injured then. Right now, he is day-to-day. Coach Craig Berube did not have an update on him after practice Tuesday.
Before his injury, he was playing mostly on the second line with Brayden Schenn and Jordan Kyrou. He had nine points in 14 games. Since his injury, the Blues have moved Mike Hoffman up into his spot. As of late, they also moved up Kyrou to the first line so it’s been Sanford, Schenn and Hoffman on the second. It has been good for Hoffman to get more ice time and more opportunities, but they are 2-3 without Schwartz in the lineup. The sooner Schwartz can get healthy and back in the lineup, the better off the Blues will be.
Thomas left the Blues’ Feb. 6th game in the first period against the Coyotes. The Blues announced that he has a broken thumb and won’t be re-evaluated for four to six weeks. He won’t be re-evaluated for at least another week and a half.
He had one goal and five assists for six points in 12 games before his injury. Thomas is another player that when looking at the Blues’ injuries, one might overlook. But, that’s a mistake. Despite being on the third line, he was undoubtedly getting some of the best chances on the team. When he was on the ice, everyone was watching because there was a good chance he was going to do something exciting.
The current third line just doesn’t have much spark or excitement to it without Thomas, no matter how many times the lines are changed up. The Blues are 3-4-1 without Thomas in the lineup, including the game that he left. The Blues will need someone to step in and fill in scoring-wise in the bottom two lines if they hope to remain near the top of the division standings.
Bozak took a shoulder to the head from Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone in the second period of a Jan. 26 game. He fell to the ice, had trouble getting up and did not return to the game. Bozak skated with the team Monday for the first time since the hit. He skated on his own Tuesday and Berube said if he keeps feeling better, he will skate with the team Wednesday.
In seven games for the Blues this season, Bozak had two assists. He was mostly seeing third-line time. His absence has made room for Sammy Blais to get into the lineup more frequently, which is exciting to see. Blais has a lot of potential, but Bozak getting back in would still be the best case scenario for the Blues especially because of his experience and the way that shines through in his play.
Tarasenko reaggravated his shoulder when the Blues were in the bubble. He had another shoulder surgery in mid-September. Tarasenko was expected to be re-evaluated five months later, in mid-February. He has been skating on his own since the beginning of February and with the team since last week. There is not yet a timetable on his return. The last thing either the Blues or Tarasenko needs is to rush him back and cause re-injury so it’s best to take as much time as he needs.
But at the same time, whenever he is ready, the Blues should welcome him with open arms into a lineup that is already missing a lot of its key forwards. If he came back soon, the Blues could make room for him on one of the top two lines and move Kyrou and/or Hoffman down. They could also start him out slow and put him on the third line and move him up when he gets more comfortable out there again.
St. Louis Blues’ Injuries to Defencemen
The Blues announced Tuesday that Gunnarsson will miss the rest of the season with a right-knee injury. He was helped off the ice in the second period of Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings after a collision with Gabriel Vilardi. The Blues were losing 1-0 when he left the game and gave up two more goals without him defending the rest of the game.
They will play their first game since his injury Wednesday. The Blues could put Jake Walman or Niko Mikkola in his spot in the bottom pairing. Neither one of them have as much experience or have proved to be as valuable and versatile as Gunnarsson yet. But with both Gunnarsson and Parayko out for the time being, the Blues will look to them to step up. Gunnarsson is in the final season of his contract. It is possible that Blues’ fans have seen the last of Gunnarsson in a Blues’ jersey.
It’s been pretty obvious that Parayko hasn’t been playing like himself most of the season. Many fans thought he was playing through an injury. He last played Feb. 15th against the Coyotes and The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reported Monday that he was playing through a back injury. It’s unclear at this point how long he will be out. Berube did not have an update on Parayko Tuesday.
In 16 games this season, he had one goal and seven assists for eight points. He averaged 22:08 of ice time, behind only Justin Faulk and Torey Krug. The Blues are 1-2 without him in the lineup. While him not performing to his full potential on the ice was frustrating to watch, the Blues are worse off without him in the lineup. Marco Scandella has been playing instead with the pairings constantly changing.
It’s time for the young kids to step up and help the Blues until their veterans can return. But it’s also necessary for the remaining Blues’ veterans to continue producing. The Blues have been shutout twice in their past four games. With Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn and Mike Hoffman in their top-six, there’s no reason that should be happening.