The injury Jori Lehtera suffered against the Rangers on Saturday will keep him out for the foreseeable future.
On Wednesday — one day after Lehtera missed St. Louis’ 2-1 OT loss in Vancouver — the Blues announced the 28-year-old was headed to injured reserve with an upper-body ailment.
A regular lineup presence over the last two years, Lehtera scored 44 points in 75 games two years ago, and 34 in 79 games last season (as well as nine in 20 playoff appearances).
His absence will hurt.
When healthy, Lehtera is a top-six forward and a frequent running mate of the team’s top sniper, Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s also one of the club’s top faceoff men and can contribute on special teams.
Much like previous seasons, the Blues are dealing with a rash of injuries at the moment. Lehtera was out of the lineup against the Canucks along with Kyle Brodziak, Carl Gunnarsson and Jaden Schwartz, all currently dealing with injuries.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Schwartz is anticipated to return next game — St. Louis plays in Edmonton on Thursday — and the ailments suffered by Brodziak and Gunnarsson aren’t believed to be serious.
Still, it’s of little relief to head coach Ken Hitchcock, who was asked what he thought of his team through four games.
“I can’t tell,” he said. “We don’t have it yet.”