Erik Johnson returns to Blues lineup

By B.J. Rains
Dec. 18, 2010

ST. LOUIS � An injury the Blues feared may have been much worse ended up causing defenseman Erik Johnson to miss just one game.

Johnson, who returned to the Blues lineup Saturday night in a 4-1 loss to San Jose, was injured during the first period of the Blues 5-2 loss in Detroit on Wednesday night. The defenseman tangled legs with the Wings� Pavel Datsyuk and left the ice without putting much pressure on his right leg or knee.

With the injuries already plaguing the Blues this season they couldn�t help but let thoughts of a serious injury creep into their head. Making speculation worse was that Johnson needed surgery on the same right knee that forced him to miss the entire 2008-09 season.

But an MRI taken Thursday in St. Louis revealed just a slight sprain of his right knee and Johnson was listed as day-to-day. He missed Thursday night�s game against the LA Kings but was back on the ice at practice Friday and played Saturday night.

�A big relief,� Johnson told reporters Saturday. �When it happened, I wasn�t exactly sure what the extent of it was. All I know is it didn�t feel very good at the time. Any time you�re dealing with something you�ve had major surgery on before, you�ve got to be careful. I�m pretty fortunate it wasn�t too serious.

�It wasn�t a pop or anything like that. If it was a pop, I think we�d probably be talking about the surgery again. It was just kind of like a pull and a strain. The pain wasn�t very good when it happened, obviously. That�s why I didn�t come back in the game. Secondly, it was the same knee I had operated on so we wanted to make sure we knew what it was before we did anything.�

The Blues are already without top forwards David Perron (concussion), T.J. Oshie (broken ankle) and Andy McDonald (concussion). Defenseman Roman Polak, who is skating and appears closer to a return, hasn�t played since Oct. 23 with a hand laceration.

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has an upper body injury and missed his third straight game Saturday night, meaning the word �thankful� that Johnson�s injury wasn�t serious may be an understatement to the Blues.

�There wasn�t too much swelling or anything like that so I was a little confident that it wasn�t anything too serious, but you never know,� Johnson said. �There�s always a little doubt in your mind, but when the radiologist came in and said it�s pretty clean, I was very relieved.�

The injury-depleted Blues will host the Vancouver Canucks Monday night at Scottrade Center. Pregame coverage on FOX Sports Midwest begins at 6:30 p.m.