The St. Louis Blues could face a defensive crisis when they continue their first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild Friday on home ice.
The Blues are dealing with multiple issues on their blue line. Marco Scandella missed the first two games of the series with a lower-body injury and Scott Perunovich has not appeared in a game since January after wrist surgery.
Nick Leddy suffered an upper-body injury Monday while absorbing a hard check into the boards in the Blues’ 4-0 victory. Robert Bortuzzo left Game 2 after blocking a shot with the side of his head during the Wild’s 6-2 win Wednesday.
Niko Mikkola moved into the starting lineup with Scandella out and Calle Rosen joined the lineup in Game 2 to replace Leddy.
“That’s playoffs,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “There’s injuries, things happen. You’ve got to just battle, you’ve got to get different guys in there to do the job.”
With the series tied 1-1, the Blues recalled Steven Santini from Springfield of the AHL for Game 3 at Enterprise Center.
“We’ve got to get a guy in just to be ready,” Berube said. “We need to make sure.”
The team didn’t practice Thursday, but both Scandella and Perunovich took the ice for individual work. Berube didn’t offer an update on Scandella, Leddy or Bortuzzo when he met with reporters.
“I haven’t seen everybody,” he said. “I really don’t have an answer for you there.”
So Berube couldn’t hazard a guess on his Game 3 lineup. “We’ve got to see how guys are,” he said. “Day to day to rest and see how they feel tomorrow. Then we’ll go from there.”
The Blues will face a big challenge in Game 3 after their Wild got their offense rolling in Game 2. Minnesota converted 2 of 3 power-play opportunities and exploited St. Louis’ turnovers with their even-strength forecheck.
Winger Kirill Kaprizov led the charge while scoring three goals.
“I don’t feel the pressure,” Kaprizov said via a translator after Game 2. “It’s just up to me and all the players to score goals, and had we scored those goals in the first game, obviously it would be different. But overall, I think the team did that today. We were able to score the goals when we needed to, and so we all take the onus on ourselves to be better and focus on the next game.”
With the series shifting to St. Louis, the Blues will have an opportunity to match lines and defensive pairings against Kaprizov with the last player change.
“He’s just going to do what he does,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “He’s just going to play hard. Sure, he’s got two, three people around him. They’re trying to hit him. He’s just going to play through it. He just stays the course, just goes about his business.
“It shouldn’t surprise, his response when teams play him that hard and, well, that he takes it as a big challenge. He did tonight and had a great game.”
The Wild went 4-for-5 with their penalty kill Wednesday and blocked 20 shots overall while maintaining control of Game 2.
“We took a lot of heat for our special teams, right, and they were real good obviously tonight,” Evason said.
–Field Level Media