Ken Hitchcock is in the midst of a make-or-break season with the St. Louis Blues, and the injury bug isn’t making life any easier for him. Over the course of the campaign, Hitchcock’s club has had to deal with the losses of Patrik Berglund, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jake Allen. So it should come as little surprise that just as it appears the Blues were getting healthy, Alexander Steen finds himself on the shelf.
The Blues announced Sunday that Steen has been placed on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury and could be out more than a month. A timeline for Steen’s return hasn’t been given, but St. Louis did say he would be re-evaluated in four weeks.
Steen was injured Saturday when he was sent hard into the boards by Arizona Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton. Almost immediately, Steen got up off the ice clutching his left arm and headed towards the Blues’ dressing room:
Before falling injured, Steen had contributed a goal and an assist, and losing him for at least a month is going to be a serious blow. Following Saturday’s game, Blues captain David Backes called Steen the team’s “best all-around player,” which speaks volumes about what the loss could mean for St. Louis.
Steen, 31, had yet to miss a game this season before being knocked out of Saturday’s game, and he was on pace for yet another 60-plus point campaign had he stayed healthy. Through 61 games this season, Steen is second on the Blues in goals and points with 17 and 47, respectively, and no forward has logged near the minutes of Steen, who is averaging 20:31 per game.
The Blues have built a big enough lead for the third spot in the Central Division, but they’re part of a heated three-way race for top spot in the division. The loss of Steen also comes at a time when St. Louis is charging hard for first place in the Central. The Blues have won their past five games and are only two points back of the Chicago Blackhawks for the Central Division lead.
If there is a silver lining, though, it’s that Steen will almost certainly be back in time for the post-season. Even if he remains out of the lineup for upwards of six weeks, that would still put Steen in line for a return by Game One of the playoffs. And in an incredibly difficult division, getting Steen back can be the difference between advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in three seasons or yet another early summer.