The Blues will be short a defenseman for at least six weeks.
While St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock had announced earlier that defenseman Robert Bortuzzo would be “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury that he suffered in Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets, that term doesn’t really seem to fit the prognosis that the team provided when it placed Bortuzzo on injured reserve Tuesday morning.
Bortuzzo, who is thought to have a knee injury, was placed on IR with an injury that will be re-evaluated in six weeks. It marks the second long-term injury of the season for Bortuzzo, who missed 10 games from late October to mid-November with a different lower-body injury.
Bortuzzo will be replaced in the lineup by Joel Edmundson, who was activated from injured reserve on Tuesday.
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Edmundson, who has missed the past 12 games with an upper-body injury, does many of the same things that Bortuzzo does, but is a lefthanded shooter. Thus, his return will allow the Blues to pair a lefthanded and righthanded shot for all three of their pairings, rather than playing the righty-shooting Bortuzzo on the left side (which, to his credit, he did very well.)
The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Bortuzzo has played in 11 games this season, collecting a goal and an assist with a team-best plus-six rating. Much like forward Ryan Reaves, who broke into the league as a big, imposing “tough guy”, Bortuzzo made some adjustments in his game over the summer to improve his speed and reduce his need to hit people and fight in order to make an impact. Those changes have really paid off, as Bortuzzo has been firmly in the mix all season when healthy and had played perhaps the five or six best games of his Blues career prior to the injury.
The Blues are expected to call up a seventh defenseman for their upcoming three-game road trip, which begins on Thursday and will take them to Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Minnesota. While Petteri Lindbohm would seem to be the most obvious candidate to receive the promotion, considering that he’s already played five games with the NHL club this season, they could also recall Brad Hunt, who is tied for the AHL lead in points (26), or Chris Butler, who was with the NHL club for a day earlier this season and has spent extensive time as the Blues’ seventh defenseman over the past two years.