Injury-riddled Blues host Oilers and former coach Hitchcock
The Blues are limping figuratively with a 9-13-3 record, the franchise’s worst start since beginning the 2006-07 season with a 7-15-3 mark.
And now they are limping literally after announcing that captain Alex Pietrangelo was one of three players placed on injured reserve Monday.
Pietrangelo (hand), forward Robby Fabbri (shoulder) and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) were all put on IR. Pietrangelo and Fabbri will be out for several weeks, while Gunnarsson, whose designation was retroactive to Nov. 17, is day to day. Forwards Alexander Steen (concussion) and Jaden Schwartz (upper body) also are day to day.
Pietrangelo, the Blues’ top defenseman, hurt the hand during the team’s 3-2 overtime win at Colorado on Friday. He is likely to have surgery.
“Alex Pietrangelo sustained a hand injury, he’s been placed on long-term (injured reserve), so he’ll be re-evaluated around Christmas,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told NHL.com on Monday afternoon before practice. “He’s talking to the doctors now. There’s the likelihood that he’ll have some surgery, yes.”
Blues interim coach Craig Berube said it was a huge loss.
“Logs a lot of minutes, plays in a lot of situations, captain of your team,” Berube told NHL.com. “It’s tough, but there are other players who are going to get opportunities here, and they have to step up. We all have to play well. The team has to play well.
“When you have injuries, it’s very important that we stick together as a team and play well as a team.”
Fabbri was injured in a 6-1 loss at Arizona on Saturday. It is the latest in a string of injuries, including two torn ACLs, that have sidelined him for 122 of the past 137 games.
“Robby Fabbri separated his shoulder. He’s been put on IR and will be evaluated around Christmas,” Armstrong told NHL.com. “His is a shoulder injury; I don’t think it’s a surgical candidate. I’m actually sure it’s not or else we’d be a lot longer than Christmas.”
Wednesday’s game at Enterprise Center will be the first of three this season between the Blues and Oilers. St. Louis took two of three last season from Edmonton.
The Oilers are coming off a 4-1 loss at Dallas on Monday that snapped a three-game winning streak.
“You’ve got to move on,” Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock told NHL.com. “You’ve got to be able to win games if you’re missing one guy. It’s not the end of the world.”
The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Hitchcock, who coached the Blues from 2011-17. Hitchcock, who was hired by Edmonton on Nov. 20 to replace the fired Todd McLellan, had a 248-124-41 record leading the Blues.
“It was a hell of a six-year run,” he told NHL.com. “We were in a conference and a division that was strong. We were sitting there with Nashville and Chicago and then you’ve got LA, who was on a roll, and we were right in the mix with those teams.”