Blues defenseman escaped serious injury, coach says
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The bad news for Roman Polak is he won't play Thursday in Nashville. The good news is the laceration on his right wrist could have been a lot worse.
Polak suffered the injury in the second period Saturday night against Pittsburgh when the back of Sidney Crosby's skate blade accidentally cut the Blues defenseman's wrist as he was falling down on it, sending Polak frantically to the Blues' locker room. He did not return to the game.
Blues coach Davis Payne said during Monday's practice at St. Louis Mills that the injury could have been a lot worse but that doctors have said Polak will need to miss a game and then will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
"He's obviously got that laceration. The internal stuff checks out pretty good as far as the medical diagnosis goes," Payne said. "It's obviously a deep gash, a deep cut, but not a lot of internal stuff. We expect him to be out Thursday and day-to-day beyond that ... questionable for Saturday's game. It's pretty good news as far as we're concerned."
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman was not on the ice when the injury occurred but saw Polak leaving the ice.
"Yes I did. Scary," Jackman said. "He was yelling at guys to get out of the way. Any time there's a cut and obviously close to an artery, you're scared. But thank God, it wasn't that deep and we're not talking about a life-threatening injury.
"The look on his face was scary. You see the cut in the area, you almost lose your lunch."
Polak was averaging over 19 minutes per game for the team but will at least for one game be replaced by Tyson Strachan in the lineup. Strachan has been a healthy scratch in six of the team's seven games this season.
"It's obviously tough to lose a key player like Roman," said defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, whose ice time will increase and who played a team-high 23:12 on Saturday. "He plays big minutes, but it's a chance for other people to step up. I'm just trying to do my job and hopefully, I can fulfill that."
Added Payne, "(Polak's) been playing great hockey for us. He's a big, strong, physical guy with great closing speed. Now it's a situation like we had to finish the last half of (Saturday's) game against Pittsburgh. Guys gotta step up and eat into those minutes and get the job done against offensive players, gotta get the job done in shutting people down.
"Tyson Strachan has been staying ready, the minutes to Petro go up, the minutes to (Erik Johnson) go up. This is all part of the game. Injuries happen, we band it together and we go on."
Payne said the team does not plan on calling anyone up from Peoria.
"As of right now, we'll stick with what we've got," Payne said.
That means Strachan, who played a grand total of 4:48 at Dallas, will jump into the mix in Nashville.
"I think one of our strengths is our depth at D," Jackman said. "You look in training camp, there's a lot of guys that were fighting for spots. Strachs is definitely a capable guy with some experience in the past. Everybody has to pick up the slack, but we do have the depth that can help us out."