Jaden Schwartz was on pace to flirt with a triple-digit point total this season.
‘Was’ is the keyword here because, for the second time in three years, Schwartz will miss a significant chunk of time with an ankle injury.
How long he will be on the shelf this time around is undetermined, but Schwartz won’t be evaluated for six weeks after blocking a shot off his right ankle in a 6-1 rout of the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
The injury bug hasn’t been kind to Schwartz’s ankles. During the 2015-16 season, he was limited to just 33 games after sustaining a broken ankle in practice.
The fresh diagnosis is a frustrating blow for Schwartz and the Blues, who have watched his line with Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen turn into one of the top trios in the NHL this season.
Through 30 games, the 25-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points, placing him second on the Blues, behind Schenn, and ninth in league-wide scoring, tied with Connor McDavid.
At his current pace, Schwartz, playing roughly 20 minutes a night, would have hit 98 points. And a little lucky bounce or two here and there might have propelled him above the century mark, setting career highs along the way.
For the Blues, dealing with devastating injuries is all-to-familiar this season.
But what’s probably most impressive about how successful the Blues have been this season is how they’ve been able to exceed all reasonable expectations despite dealing with a hefty number of major ailments.
The injury bug has been more akin to a foul beast in the Gateway to the West. From Robby Fabbri gone for the season with a torn ACL and Zach Sanford sidelined for months with a shoulder problem to Jay Bouwmeester missing 20 games to start the year and Steen missing the first six.
Not many predicted the Blues to be where they are in mid-December: second place the Western Conference standings with 42 points, just two back of top spot in the league.
And now the Blues, in the midst of a three-game winning streak, will have to navigate another injury to a key piece of their lineup.
They’ve shown the ability to overcome injury adversity before, but losing a key piece of your top six and a top scorer is never easy.
If anyone has the formula down, however, it’s the Bluenotes.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck