Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blues' injury list grows with addition to Pietrangelo

Defenseman will miss Wednesday game in Detroit,
questionable for Thursday vs. Los Angeles with upper-body injury

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Just what the Blues need is another injury.

As if there haven't been enough of them already, the hits just keep coming. There are so many bullets the Blues can keep dodging.

The Blues took another hit to their defensive corps Tuesday when it was disclosed that Alex Pietrangelo, one of the most consistent of the team's blueliners, did not travel to Detroit for the Blues' game against the Red Wings Wednesday and will not play.

Pietrangelo, who leads the team's defensemen in assists (12) and points (15), is bothered by a shoulder injury, a source has said.

Pietrangelo initially was hurt during Thursday's 4-1 victory over Columbus after taking a hit from Rick Nash early in the game. He would miss the rest of the first period but came back to finish the contest. Pietrangelo then took another hit from Carolina Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner in the first period, left the ice again but came back moments later and scored the Blues' lone goal in the third period.

Pietrangelo, 20, who is third on the team behind Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer in average time on ice per game (21 minutes, 9 seconds) was on the ice originally for Tuesday's practice at St. Louis Mills' Ice Zone but left just as the team began their drills.

Blues coach Davis Payne, who confirmed that Pietrangelo would not suit up against the Red Wings and is questionable for Thursday's home game against the Los Angeles Kings, said Pietrangelo re-aggravated a previous injury.

"It wasn't new today. It was from our last game," said Payne, who also confirmed Tyson Strachan will suit up against Detroit and take Pietrangelo's place. "We would anticipate it not being long-term.

"He's been playing great hockey. He's been playing quality minutes in all situations. This is a conversation we've had before. It's nothing different. There's no surprise in there, as to what needs to happen. We need to be -- again -- a step better as a group, stronger with better decision-making, stronger with our defensive structure and make sure the power of the pack is just that."

The Blues are already without forwards David Perron (concussion), Andy McDonald (concussion) and T.J. Oshie (broken ankle) along with defenseman Roman Polak (wrist). Defenseman Barret Jackman (knee sprain) missed roughly three weeks earlier this season.

"It's another tough break," forward B.J. Crombeen said prior to departing for Detroit. "Obviously, he's played very well for us and stepped up and played a lot of good minutes. It's obviously another loss, but it's kind of what we've been going through and something we've got to continue to work through. We've got some guys that are ready and waiting that will step in and do a great job. We're confident in that."

So the injury-depleted Blues go into Joe Louis Arena to face a Red Wings squad that leads the Western Conference in points and is coming off a disheartening 5-0 home loss to the Kings on Monday.

Not a good recipe for a team that can only wonder how much more it can endure.

"I don't think you can really look at it that way," Crombeen said. "Obviously if you're sitting back and looking at it, that's the way you'd look at it, but we're just focusing on doing what we can do and making sure that we're going into Detroit focusing on getting the two points tomorrow.

"We've got quite a few guys up, guys playing higher roles and doing different things. It kind of shows what our team's made up of. Guys are stepping up and filling those roles. Tomorrow's a tough test against Detroit and we're going to need everyone at their best."

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