Rutherford: Injuries to Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko illustrate the Blues’ next steps

if Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong had any lingering indecision about what to do in the 2022-23 season, which I don’t think he did, the situation was made clear to him on Sunday.

After learning during Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Minnesota that Vladimir Tarasenko He would miss several weeks with his broken hand, Armstrong finding out a day later Ryan O’Reilly He will spend more time with a broken foot.

The club confirmed Monday that Tarasenko will be re-evaluated in four weeks and O’Reilly in six weeks, and with that, there will be no more re-evaluation of the Blues season. The path should now be clear: fully commit to moving senior team assets and possibly more.

I think Armstrong was already thinking along the lines of “re-tooling,” and I was even more convinced of that after I asked him on Monday if the two injuries would change his mindset about trying to hang on to racing or explore business talks more seriously.

Armstrong replied, “Not that we talk and work behind the scenes every day.” So, nothing really changes. When you look around the league, how many big signings have you seen this year? Nobody.

“We’re an integral part of the other 31 teams. Your record says what you do in your deadlines, and in the end it takes two to make a deal. We have to want the players the other teams trade, and vice versa; they have to want what we consider trading them.” Our record will determine what we do in those times.”

Well that was a 17-17-3 record as the Blues boarded a plane to Toronto, started a four-game road trip, and there was no sign it would get any better.

Especially now, after two of the team’s best players are injured.

In the first period on Saturday, Tarasenko blocked a Minnesota shot Dumbaa died. He went to the bench, took off his glove, extended his fingers, and spoke with athletic trainer Ray Burrell.

About four minutes later, Tarasenko was back on the ice, and the Blues were on their way to power play.

“He was telling me after playing hard in the first period, he broke his hand and couldn’t hold the stick,” his teammate said Pavel Bukhnevich He said.

Tarasenko left the match at the end of the period and did not return.

In the second period, O’Reilly was on the ice with the Blues’ penalty unit and blocked a Wild’s shot. Caline Addison with his right foot.

He limped off the bench but finished the game, clocking in with 19:04 of ice time, telling Bušenvić afterwards that it was “just a bruise”. In fact, about 30 minutes into the game, he was dressed in street clothes and talking outside the locker room.

“I got the information that he came to the rink and he wasn’t feeling well,” Armstrong said. “We sent him out to take some pictures, and he came back looking even more serious than we could have hoped.”

Although Tarasenko’s numbers have been inconsistent this season, he is still third on the team in terms of goals (10), assists (19) and points (29). Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s numbers were almost non-existent, notably his assists (six), but he was still tied with Tarasenko for third on the club with 10 goals.

Does anyone expect a challenging offensive lineup, which ranks No. 21 in the NHL With 3.03 goals per game, to look better in the aftermath? Forward groups that had been looking for chemistry all season looked a little more somber in Monday’s training.

Blues practice lines

Pavel Bukhnevich

Robert Thomas

Jordan Kerro

Brandon Saad

Brayden Shane

Ivan Barbashev

Neighbor Jake

Logan Brown

Josh Leveaux

Alexei Toropchenko

Noel Accari

Nathan Walker

The top lines may be fine, but the downstream effect will ask a lot of the bottom six lines, and that was before Logan Brown He left the ice early with an apparent injury. Just 30 minutes ago, Armstrong, who is in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the Junior World Championships, mentioned Brown as a player who could be the beneficiary of his newly available ice time, but now he hasn’t even gone on the trip.

Brown’s injury. Nikita Alexandrov Called up from AHL Springfield. He played nine games earlier this season with the Blues and had one assist.

while, Neighbor Jake As it was called. He seemed to find his rhythm in his last stint with the Thunderbirds, scoring seven goals and two assists in his past nine games in the minors.

“Once I settled in, I got comfortable and started playing some good hockey,” said the neighbors. “It was great. Obviously a slow start to the season for me in terms of production, a lot of uncertainty up and down, so it was good to be in one place for a while and get some points.”

But it remains to be seen how this result will translate to Neighbors, who have just one point (goal) in 13 games with the Blues this season.

As Bukhnevic said on Monday, “We’re in a difficult situation, and we need to win games like 2-1 and 1-0. We don’t need the high-scoring game. We just clean up the defense, play for each other, and don’t focus on points.”

Of course, “cleaning up the defense” probably sounds a little far-fetched to anyone who’s watched the Blues concede the seventh most goals against per game in the league (3.62) this season.

Like the team, Armstrong isn’t focused on the points.

On Monday, GM went back into the history books and pointed to a 2008-09 Blues team that got together and went best team in the NHL-27-10-7 down the stretch, qualifying for the playoffs. But as many will remember, this band was overrun Vancouver In the first round.

Also, this pessimistic Blues club didn’t have any major free agents kept to get past the trade deadline. It was a rebuilding era, and the superior team played everything they could, letting the chips fall where they belong.

This time, it’s much different.

O’Reilly and Tarasenko were No. 5 and No. 6 on the present day the athleteprincipled Trade Councilreleased in December.

Before the news of O’Reilly’s injury on Monday, a scout said anonymously because he is not at liberty to discuss other teams’ players publicly, the Blues captain said he could get a first-round pick and a high prospect in a trade.

Is that still possible now that the 31-year-old may not return until before the rapidly approaching deadline – now eight weeks later? Will any team with a prior interest get along with a player who may not have a lot of time to prove he’s healthy?

The same goes for Tarasenko, who will be in demand for his goal-scoring ability. Will there still be an appetite among potential suitors for a player like this returning from a broken hand?

I asked Armstrong what he would think if GM were looking at the possibility of bringing a player like that onto their team.

“What I will definitely do is ask for medical records and review those records with our coaching staff and physicians,” he said. “The injuries we are talking about now are not serious in the sense that they heal quickly and will be ready for action. Then I will look at the player’s history.”

To me, Armstrong seemed like someone who hoped he could get his injured players back in the lineup and they could prove their worth to the contenders after the season. What happened was an immediate setback, for sure, but in the long run, it shouldn’t change the team’s plans.

(Photo of Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko after the Blues win the 2019 Stanley Cup: Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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