The St. Louis Blues' franchise best season start seems like a far away, fuzzy memory now. Sure, the team's still well above .500 (15-10-5), but they've gone from having the best point percentage in the leaguge to 10th in the tight Western Conference. What's happened? A team that started healthy, young, and strong is now just young, thanks to the huge number of call-ups the team has had to do. Dragging up seven forwards from the Peoria Rivermen have given guys young and old (Dave Scatchard, anyone?) a chance to play for the big club. While I don't not enjoy watching the youth of the organization perform and do it well considering their skill set, I was looking forward to a Blues/Thrashers game on Tuesday, not a Rivermen/Thrashers match-up. It looks like I'll be getting the latter.
I will not be seeing this Tuesday night.
The Blues got lucky in that forward Vladimir Sobotka's injury sustained in the game against the Red Wings on the 15th wasn't a bad one - he played and scored in last night's 6-4 win over the Kings - but in general this season they've had more injuries to important players than any team deserves. Erik Johnson's the latest one. He re-tweaked his right knee Wednesday night while getting tangled up with Pavel Datsyuk, and is now day-to-day. It could have been much worse, but to have both he and Alex Pietrangelo out at the same time is depriving the team of two top young defensemen and their two top defensive time getters.
The injuries have been pretty evenly split between the forwards and defense this year; the defense seemed to suffer their injuries earlier in general than the forwards, but it's still costly. Who's out, you ask?
- TJ Oshie - broken ankle, 11/11 - about 3 more months - missed 16 games
- David Perron - concussion (totally faked), 11/5 - who knows - missed 20 games
- Andy McDonald - concussion, 12/4 - just put on injured reserve - beats me how long - missed 5 games
- Roman Polak - wrist laceration, 10/24 - unsure on return timetable - missed 23 games
- Alex Pietrangelo - upper body - day to day - missed 3 games
- Erik Johnson - knee - day to day - missed one game
There you have it. Pretty impressive list of those who're out. The teams top three scorers, and half of the defense. That's a decent explination of the problems they're having right now. If every single line doesn't kill themselves out there, the Blues lose because they're currently playing either AHL prospects or general AHL talent in those gaps. It was just as bad a few weeks ago. Here're the Blues who have been out and are back:
- Carlo Colaiacovo - concussion, 10/30-11/15 - missed 7 games
- Barrett Jackman - leg injury, 11/6-11/24 - missed 6 games
- Cam Janssen - concussion, 10/11-10/27 - 6 games
Total, the team has lost 87 man games as of December 16th to injury and have had nine players injured so far this year - four fowards and five defensemen. If you'd like to know what happened to that miracle beginning and all of those playoff plans, there you go. Is it too late to fix things? Of course not. It's December, and it's not like the guys'll be broken forever, and sooner or later Brad Boyes will score non-shootout goals. David Backes has been heating up, and the secondary scoring last night was outstanding (Jay McClement, Sobotka, Brad Winchester, Eric Brewer, Alex Steen, and David Backes all scored). It's just a matter of consistancy in effort for the guys to claw their way back into the top eight.