Ever since Kris Russell arrived in St. Louis after a trade with Columbus, he’s been Ken Hitchcock’s warhorse on the blue line. He’s played a ton of minutes per game, he’s been productive offensively and more than sound defensively. To sum it up, he’s been exactly what the Blues wanted in a defenseman.
Now they’re going to divvy up his minutes creatively for the next three weeks (at least) as Russell is out with a groin injury. Yeah, that always hurts to read, but now the Blues have to hope Ian Cole can step in in Russell’s absence and make it work.
Russell was playing great in the Blues lineup along with Kevin Shattenkirk to provide great two-way play but without him they’ll need to get that spark elsewhere. Getting a bit more out of Carlo Colaiacovo would go a long way towards stemming the tide there.
As for Cole, it’s a big opportunity for him to join the likes of Shattenkirk, Russell, and Alex Pietrangelo as young studs on defense. Getting great play out of their younger defenseman is a big reason why they’ve turned it around under Hitchcock.