Brian Elliott (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
When it comes to injuries, the St. Louis Blues can’t catch a break. Steve Ott and Brian Elliott left Wednesday’s game with injuries, but players on PTOs and the emergence of Jake Allen could help the Blues stay strong while Ott and Elliott recover.
You might need to add two more names to the St. Louis Blues’ injured list.
During the Blues big-time comeback against the Blackhawks — Chicago led 5-2 after the first period, but St. Louis picked up a 6-5 victory in overtime — two more members of the roster found themselves heading to the dressing room and onto the trainer's table.
In the first period of the tilt, Brian Elliott, who had been pulled earlier in the game for allowing three goals on six shots only to get thrown back into goal after a short rest, left the contest after being scored on for a fourth time in 15 shots. Elliott didn’t head to take backup duties, though. Instead, Elliott left the bench and exited the game entirely. Post-game, coach Ken Hitchcock said the netminder took a blow to the head.
But Elliott’s injury wasn’t the only one, as Steve Ott appeared to go down with what looked like an injury to his right arm. Ott’s injury came when he went to throw a check on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. Immediately after making impact with Seabrook, Ott dropped his glove from his right hand and began skating to the bench. Ott left the ice with more than five minutes remaining in the second frame, but didn’t return.
No official announcements on the extent of the injuries has been made by the Blues, but St. Louis has got to be close to begging for a five-game stretch where no players fall to injury.
Already, the Blues had recalled left winger Magnus Paajarvi from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, but if the injuries to Elliott and Ott are serious, St. Louis may need to dip further into the cupboard.
If the Blues are looking for help up front, the Wolves’ Danny Kristo or Pat Cannone, the club’s leading scorers, could be decent options. But Ivan Barbashev, the 19-year-old rookie, might be the most intriguing option. In seven AHL contests, Barbashev has two goals and seven points and might be another weapon for the injury-riddled Blues.
There’s also room for St. Louis to look at Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus, both of whom the club brought in on professional tryout contracts on Oct. 28. Havlat, 34, and Zubrus, 37, are veteran options for the Blues, who have already brought in Scottie Upshall and Scott Gomez off of PTOs this season. Both Havlat and Zubrus had the worst seasons of their careers in 2014-15, though, which may make St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong reconsider bringing in either veteran ahead of younger talent from the AHL.
As for who the Blues turn to should Elliott be out a significant period of time, the likely move is Jordan Binnington, who came up as St. Louis’ backup in November 2014 when Elliott fell injured. Binnington has never seen the ice in an NHL contest, however, as the Blues signed now-assistant GM Martin Brodeur to a one-year deal when Elliott went down.
That said, Elliott’s injury might not hit the Blues as hard as one would expect. After Elliott left in the first period, Jake Allen came into the contest and turned aside 27 of 28 shots he faced over the remaining two periods-plus. The only goal he allowed came on the power play when Patrick Kane released a pinpoint-accurate wrist shot. At even strength, Allen turned aside all 26 shots he faced.
Allen and Elliott were embroiled in a goaltending duel for much of the 2014-15 campaign, but over the past few outings, Allen has taken the No. 1 job and run with it. His victory Wednesday in the thriller against Chicago was his fourth win in five games and came on what was supposed to be a rest night as the Blues were playing a back-to-back and Allen had started Tuesday’s game against the Kings. Allen hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his past five starts and of the 33 goaltenders to play at least 250 minutes at 5-on-5, Allen’s .946 save percentage ranks fifth.
Without Elliott and Ott, the Blues should be fine -- especially with the recent play of Allen -- but if the injuries keep rolling in, St. Louis might not have anyone left.