Thursday, December 16, 2010

News on Johnson: mild right knee sprain

Defenseman is listed as day-to-day after injury in
Detroit; Blues relieved tests didn't show major damage

ST. LOUIS -- Whew!

There's nothing else the Blues can say. They've been besieged by injuries all season, so what else could they expect than to hear with the fate of defenseman Erik Johnson?

Johnson, who had his right knee surgically repaired two years ago, injured that same knee Wednesday night in Detroit.

But ...

"As far as the Blues go today, it's been a good day," Blues President John Davidson said.

Really? How is that?

"Erik Johnson had an appointment with the doctor this morning ... and he was sent for an MRI ... and what he has is a slight sprain of the knee, and it's day to day," Davidson said. "So there's not a long-term injury here, he's relieved, we're relieved and maybe this is a good sign for things for us to turn around finally. That's where it is with Erik."

And so it is. Johnson, who was the leader in minutes played per game (22 minutes, 28 seconds), could -- stressing could -- play Saturday when the Blues host the San Jose Sharks.

That's amazing in itself as the photos of Johnson favoring his leg as he gingerly skated off the ice early in the first period at Joe Louis Arena.

"He'll come in (Friday), he'll have treatments, see our training staff, they'll assess how he is ... he may test it, he may not," Davidson said. "We're not going to rush, but it is day-to-day. He may feel real good tomorrow for all we know. It's a good day for us in that respect.

"We try to be careful with all of our guys," Davidson added. "The history of the Blues regarding our injuries right now ... let's not be foolish, we're not going to be foolish, we're going to be careful with these people. We're not an organization that's going to turn around and say tape an aspirin to it and go play. We won't do that. We'll make sure it's right. ... We're happy he's in a position where this is not a serious long-term injury.

"We're starting to feel a little more optimistic than we were this morning."

Indeed. The Blues are already without forwards David Perron and Andy McDonald, who are out with concussions, T.J. Oshie is still a way off with his broken ankle, defenseman Roman Polak is nearing a return with his lacerated wrist tendon and Alex Pietrangelo is dealing with an upper-body injury and missed his second straight game Thursday.

So to get the news that Johnson is day-to-day must have felt like hitting the jackpot for the Blues, even though any sort of sprain is nothing to be casual with.

"I was just told that he's relieved, and I can understand that," Davidson said of Johnson, who has 10 points in 29 games. "He's been through a lot for a young player.

"... If we don't feel he's ready to go, we won't play him. If we feel that he can go and play without injuring his knee further, we'll let him go."

Davidson also touched on the status of the remaining injured players.

On Pietrangelo and Polak:

"Yeah, it felt good to get some good news," Davidson said. "We look at our injured people and Pietrangelo is upper body, he's day-to-day, basically. Roman Polak, he's making real good progress, we're excited about that.

"(Polak) has to heal. He had a severed tendon that was reattached and you can't take chances with that. That's why he's skating. It's not a weight-bearing injury, it's a tendon in his wrist. When the doctors give us the OK that he can go out there and play, without re-rupturing that tendon, then we'll do that. But until then, he's going to work on his conditioning.

"No, it's not serious (with Pietrangelo). It's something we'll monitor, day to day. As soon as we get the OK from the doctors, he's back in. If it was a serious injury, he wouldn't have been out there today."

On Oshie:

"Oshie is on track, but it's going to be a long time yet," Davidson said.

On Perron and McDonald:

"The two concussions are two concussions, and I don't want to get into that because ... when you work with concussions, what happens when players get over it, they walk in and tell you they feel good," Davidson said. "So you go from there.

"It is what it is. There's no magic treatment. We do all the research, we check with people all over the league, around the world, actually, with head trauma and try to get as much information about how to make it better ... there isn't any secret to it. A concussion is essentially a bruise to the brain and everybody is different. They all heal their own ways, so we'll just have to wait this thing out with both players."

The Blues just want to stay in this thing long enough to get their core players back and make a run in the West.

"You know, there's always disappointment when things happen because we feel that when our club is healthy, we have a very, very good ... fast, exciting hockey club," Davidson said. "But we don't have the ability to have all of our players on the ice right now. I personally am proud of our guys for how hard they've played. These guys are playing their tails off. I really respect that. We'd love to have more, but we understand the situation ... we're trying to keep our head above water. There's a lot of players playing their tail off and hopefully we'll keep doing that, get our points in a very difficult conference, stay in the race and when we get healthy, we're a good hockey club."

Davidson was also asked if the Blues were involved in any trade talk.

"It's going to sound like the same old rhetoric, but examine the league everyday," he said. "(General manager) Doug (Armstrong) talks to general managers every day. It's a very difficult thing ... to make midseason trades. We like our team when we're healthy, we like the way we're working right now. You look around and you go, 'Do you give up young people? There's a lot of things that don't make any sense for us. That's just where it sits.

"You only want to make a move if it makes sense in a lot of different ways. It's pretty obvious that when you have injuries like we have to the top side of our lineup and as deep as those players are, at the top end, teams aren't feeling sorry for you. They aren't going to call you up and say, 'Geez, we'll help you out.' It doesn't work that way. They don't really care about us. So we're going to try and persevere and if something comes along, it does and if it doesn't, it doesn't."

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