Alex Pietrangelo (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Another day, another St. Louis Blue on the IR. The Blues announced Monday defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will miss at least three weeks with a right knee injury. Pietrangelo, 26, is averaging more than 26 minutes per game for the Blues and has three goals and 23 points in 55 games.
The St. Louis Blues will be getting Jaden Schwartz, who has been out Oct. 20, back in the lineup in the coming days, but just as one player comes off the IR, another is headed their. The Blues announced Monday that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on IR with a right knee injury suffered Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
Pietrangelo’s injury came in the third period with little more than seven minutes remaining. As he was attempting to move the puck up ice, Pietrangelo side-stepped a check from an oncoming Charlie Coyle, but Coyle’s left knee caught Pietrangelo in the right knee and sent him falling to the ice. Though Pietrangelo was able to skate off under his own power, the outlook on the injury doesn’t appear too promising, as the Blues said he won’t be re-evaluated for three weeks.
For the Blues, it’s just another in a season that has been injury filled and has decimated their roster at different points throughout the season.
"We’ve dealt with it all year. We’re used to it," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, via StLouisBlues.com. "I don’t want to say we’re numb to it, but we’ve done hell of a job in dealing with injuries to significant players. This is another one that we’ll adjust and keep going.”
Losing Pietrangelo could hurt the Blues more than any injury the team has had to deal with before him, though. Heading into Monday’s games, only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Minnesota’s Ryan Suter and Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty have a higher average ice time than Pietrangelo, who has averaged 26:40 of ice time per game for the Blues this season. That’s over three minutes more than any other Blues player, and Pietrangelo is one of only three blueliner in St. Louis who have logged more than 20 minutes per game this campaign.
"It’s a huge (loss),” Blues netminder Brian Elliott told StLouisBlues.com’s Chris Pinkert. “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."
With Pietrangelo out, the weight of the blueline minutes are going to fall on the shoulders of Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko, with Carl Gunnarsson likely rounding out the top-four. The loss of Pietrangelo at this point in the season, though, could mean the Blues look into acquiring a depth defenseman at the trade deadline. That’s not to mention starting netminder Jake Allen is on the shelf. As it stands, the Blues are 10 points up on Nashville and Colorado for the third post-season spot in the Central Division, and staying ahead of the Predators and Avalanche might require some dealing.
Thankfully, however, a three-week timeline for Pietrangelo means he’ll be back before the playoffs begin. For Hitchcock and the Blues, this could be the most important post-season in franchise history should they make it. St. Louis will be attempting to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the past three seasons, and doing so without Pietrangelo would have been incredibly difficult.