Stingy defense and stout goaltending are what make the St. Louis Blues a dominant team, but opponents shouldn’t dismiss their diverse offense. That group took a hit – literally and figuratively – when Tuomo Ruutu sent Andy McDonald into the boards during the Blues’ 2-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The one bit of potentially decent news is that it appears that McDonald’s “upper-body injury” is related to his right shoulder rather than more concussion issues, at least from Jeremy Rutherford’s initial reports.
Speaking of which, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t quite call the hit suspension-worthy, but felt that Ruutu’s check provided another example of the NHL’s collective moral dilemma.
“I didn’t like the hit,” Hitchcock said. “I thought the hit was certainly a penalty, whether it’s a suspension or not, who knows? But that’s what’s wrong with our game? The player was in a vulnerable position. He knocked his stick to knock him off balance and then pushed him hard into the boards. It’s a real tough play in hockey.”
Losing McDonald – again
While the Blues are accustomed to playing without McDonald these days, he was a real difference-maker in his scarce appearances this season. In just 21 games, McDonald has nine goals and 19 points. He carried a six-game points streak (four goals, five assists) and had points in nine of 10 contests before tonight’s loss.
Hitchcock gave a matter-of-fact response to possibly losing McDonald, who will be re-evaluated on Friday:
“We’ve got some adversity,” Hitchcock said. “Every team has it this time of year, we’ll just have to deal with it. We’ve dealt with it all year long.”
Punishment for Ruutu?
You’ve heard Hitchcock’s take and had a chance to review the video, so share your perspective. Does Ruutu deserve a fine, suspension or nothing at all for that hit on McDonald?
Either way, it’s the kind of loss that could make the Blues’ playoff bandwagon a little bit lighter.