The St. Louis Blues have placed Robert Bortuzzo on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Details on the injury are sparse, but the Blues have announced that the defenseman will be evaluated again in two weeks.
With Bortuzzo sidelined, more will be asked of the team’s defense. Jordan Schmaltz will now slide into a more regular role in Bortuzzo’s absence – a role he has earned after some strong play.
An extended absence for Bortuzzo seemed likely after he pursued a second opinion for his lower-body injury. While we don’t know what the results of that second opinion were (or what the results of the first opinion were), we know it’s serious enough to both warrant multiple opinions and a trip to the IR.
Based on the team’s projected lineup, here’s how the defense will initially look following the IR move:
Dunn – Pietrangelo
Edmundson – Parayko
Bouwmeester – Schmaltz
Note that Jay Bouwmeester has been bumped down to the third pairing with Schmaltz. That’s important as he featured in a large chunk of third period minutes for the Blues of late, which has proved to be a dreadful period for the Blues. Mike Yeo’s decision to use Bouwmeester in the third has been criticized, so it’s nice to see him shaking things up and giving a different pairing a shot.
Meanwhile, Carl Gunnarsson is on a conditioning assignment in the AHL.
Once Gunnarsson is ready to go, and assuming Bortuzzo isn’t out too long, the Blues will have some tricky decisions to make on defense.