In case you live under a rock, Alex Pietrangelo was injured during Saturday's 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild and will be on injured reserve for the next three weeks, at the least. This is a very big problem, as Pietrangelo plays the most minutes a night on the team, at 26 minutes, 40 seconds a night. Said Ken Hitchcock to Jeremy Rutherford:
"We’ve dealt with it all year, we’re used to it," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I don’t want to say we’re numb to it, but we’ve done a hell of a job in dealing with injuries to significant players. This is another one that we’ll adjust to and keep going."
Really, what else can you do? They've adjusted to the loss of Jaden Schwartz, who still won't return tonight despite going through another full practice with the team. They'll adjust to Pietrangelo's absence by moving Kevin Shattenkirk up to play with Jay Bouwmeester and will re-insert Robert Bortuzzo into the lineup. This isn't ideal, but at least it's happening against the Winnipeg Jets, who are the worst team in the Central Division after being expected to snag one of the two wild card spots for the playoffs.
This is the last time that the Blues will have to deal with the hard hitting and reckless Jets. The Blues have won the first three matchups against Winnipeg this season by simply focusing on their job and allowing the Jets to get frustrated, which tends to lead to penalties galore. If you're playing the team that's 27th overall in the league on the penalty kill, that's a great strategy to take. Yes, the Jets are 4-1-1 in their last six road games, but they also only have 49 points on the season. Maybe if their team's leading scorers would be more disciplined (both with their sticks and with the puck) their fortunes would be different. Alas, Drew Stafford is out for tonight's game thanks to a high sticking penalty that was completely avoidable. There goes one of the Jets' offensive weapons.
Their top defenseman though will be a thorn in the Central Division's side for a while. Dustin Byfuglien was re-upped yesterday for five years at $38 million dollars, but are the Jets a thorn in the rest of the Central's side? For St. Louis, no. But the Jets' rough and tumble play might put the Blues on edge tonight as they can't afford another injury to a key player.