What do the Blues need to stay healthy? Maybe a hefty glass of milk would help, or a shred of luck! After a demoralizing loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, the Blues once again are adding another player to the ever-growing injured reserve list. Carl Gunnarsson being the most recent addition after going into a puck battle in the corner, and boy was it an ugly site, with his right leg getting caught up while his left kept moving. Gunnarsson will be lost for the remainder of the 2021 season, joining a few other teammates and let’s take a look at those injuries right now, then see what players need to fill these shoes.
Vladimir Tarasenko – Probably the most impactful injury to the team thus far. The 29 year old Winger came back a bit too early during the bubble last September and re-injured a nagging shoulder, which lead to his second reconstructive shoulder surgery in the last few years. Good news with Vladdy is that we have seen him skate with the team with limited contact as of the last couple weeks. Was put on LITR and will not be playing until late March-Early April.
Robert Thomas – Thomas, 21, was looking like he was ready to fully breakout of his shell just before his broken thumb injury. With Thomas out, center depth is affected mightly, just given his skill we lose a lot here. Thomas is expected to be out minimum another 2-4 weeks, with first re-evaluation period around March 7th. Initial injury report was 4-6 weeks before being evaluated. HUGE LOSS
Colton Parayko – Something was wrong with Parayko from the very beginning of this season. Parayko looked slow, hesitant and reluctant to make plays that we know he can make. Management and Coaches decided last week to shut down Parayko for what seems to be a lingering back injury. Luckily enough the 27 year old defensemen will not need surgery for now and will begin recovery for an undisclosed length of time but is listed as day-to-day. Parayko HAS to be healthy and in the lineup for the Blues to have a hope and prayer come playoff time.
Tyler Bozak – Bozak was the recipient of a dirty head-high hit back on January 25th which left him in concussion protocol. Bozak is a main-stay in the face off dots and integral to the penalty kill, intangible attributes that are almost irreplaceable by one single player. Tyler is on the IR as of right now and hopefully we will see him back as soon as possible, as he recently has rejoined the team in practice but with limited contact.
Ivan Barbashev – Say what you want, but this guy will get you through the playoffs. Depth forwards won’t get you TO the playoffs, but will get you THROUGH. Barbashev went down with an ankle injury last week against San Jose after finally seeing some first line minutes, got to feel bad for the guy. Barby is sidelined for a minimum of 6 weeks, another crushing blow to the depth of the team. We are going to need #49 back in the lineup to get through the grind of playoffs!
Jaden Schwartz – Are we ready to label this character as injury prone yet? Every other year its this or it’s that, or somebody hit the guy with a wiffle ball bat and he’s out for months. This year is one of those years, Schwartz went down 2 weeks ago with an undisclosed lower body injury, was listed as day-to-day and we haven’t seen him since. Schwartz has 9 points in 14 games this season and has great chemistry with Brayden Schenn. Let’s not forget Schwartz was and has been a key cog in the Blues’ successful playoff runs in recent history. The Saskatchewan native is still listed as day-to-day and we hope to have him back ASAP!
The Replacements – With the injuries we just went over, the Blues are looking to depth players to step up and take the reigns for the time being. Boy would it be nice for a young talent like Scott Perunovich to come in with the injuries on the back end and break out? Wrong because he is also hurt and done for the remainder of this season, but I digress. Some players looking to take bigger roles will include Sammy Blais, Niko Mikkola and Austin Poganski. Replacing the player and just filling in is not going to be good enough. Players who get the opportunity will be tested by getting big roles, more ice time and bigger defensive responsibilities. It’s time to elevate their games and step up, because if the boys can’t figure out how to spell the walking wounded, they will be on the outside looking in for the playoff picture. It’s time to go to work. LET’S GO BLUES!
Photo Credit – stlouisgametime.com