The St. Louis Blues will be down two of their top-10 scoring forwards when they open their series against Chicago tonight at Scottrade — but will get one back.
T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund will be held out of action, head coach Ken Hitchcock confirmed on Thursday. Oshie has been sidelined since taking a high hit from Minnesota’s Mike Rupp last Thursday, while Berglund is out with a shoulder injury suffered against Dallas on Apr. 11.
The losses were offset by news that sophomore forward Vladimir Tarasenko would return to the lineup for the first time since Mar. 15. Tarasenko, who missed the last 15 games of the regular season after undergoing hand surgery, scored a career-high 21 goals this season.
But back to Oshie and Berglund for a minute.
Of the two, Oshie is the bigger loss — the U.S. Olympic standout finished second on the Blues in scoring this year, with 60 points, and was averaging close to 20 minutes per game.
Berglund will be missed in a large capacity as well, though. The Swedish center was one of St. Louis’ most-active faceoff men this year and is an active member of both the penalty kill and power play. What’s more, Berglund finished sixth on the team in goals this year, with 16.
With these two out, here’s what St. Louis’ lines looked like at the morning skate:
Steve Ott — David Backes — Alex Steen
Jaden Schwartz — Vladimir Sobotka — Tarasenko
Brenden Morrow — Derek Roy — Ryan Reaves
Chris Porter — Maxim Lapierre — Adam Cracknell
There appears to be good news on the injury front for the St. Louis Blues, as they head into their opening round playoff series with the rival Chicago Blackhawks.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a number of injured players, including Vladimir Tarasenko, T.J. Oshie, Brendan Morrow, Alex Pietrangelo and Barret Jackman took part in an optional skate, with the beginning of their series on Thursday.
However, when pressed on the matter, Oshie, out since only last Thursday with what’s been described as an upper-body injury after taking a Mike Rupp head shot, didn’t seem sure if he’d be ready for Game 1.
“I don’t know. You’ve got to see how I am tonight, how I am tomorrow morning,” Oshie told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It really is a day to day thing. If I can, if medically it’s OK and I’m not going to hurt myself worse, or hurt my team, I’ll be in.”
The Blues enter this series on a six-game losing skid to end the regular season.
The NHL has suspended Minnesota’s Mike Rupp four games for an illegal check to the head of Blues forward T.J. Oshie.
In making the ruling, the league determined that Rupp “drives his left shoulder into Oshie’s head, making it the main point of contact, and causing an injury.”
It was also determined that Rupp was guilty of interference, as Oshie was no longer eligible to be hit, let alone be hit in the head.
The St. Louis Blues are limping into the postseason.
Already down the services of captain David Backes and 20-goal man Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues lost another pair of forwards in Thursday’s loss to Minnesota: 1) T.J. Oshie, hurt on a nasty hit from Minnesota veteran Mike Rupp, and 2) Brenden Morrow, who took a shot off his foot during the morning skate and at first appeared OK — until he tried to partake in warmps and found himself unable to go.
More, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Blues inserted Magnus Paajarvi as a late addition to the lineup in Morrow’s place. The Blues will likely have to tap into their American Hockey League affiliate for call-up help prior to tonight’s game against Dallas.
Morrow’s absence could prove significant. His 13 goals rank seventh on the team and his 25 points slot him ninth among forwards. He was signed to the roster as a free agent last summer to bring veteran experience and grit to the lineup, particularly for the playoffs. After playing in 71 regular-season games, Morrow may not get that opportunity now.
Two weeks ago, the Blues looked like runaway Central Division winner. But following a rough stretch which includes their current four-game losing streak, they’ve fallen to second in the division and are now staring at a possible first round matchup with the defending champs, Chicago.
The Minnesota Wild – St. Louis Blues game saw heightened animosity on Thursday night after Mike Rupp received a match penalty for this hit on T.J. Oshie:
Oshie struggled to get up after that hit, but on the bright side, the American forward was able to eventually leave (more or less) under his own power. There is no update yet regarding how injured Oshie may be.
Update: Here’s a vague update for Oshie:
Rupp, 34, hasn’t ever been suspended before in his NHL career, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo explains why a suspension could be imminent:
The St. Louis Blues ended up losing their fourth game in a row as the Wild won 4-2 tonight.