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NOTEBOOK

Blues notebook: With Krug out, Perunovich could be the next up

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Blues face Canadiens at home

St. Louis Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich (48) takes the puck into the Canadiens zone through Montreal Canadiens left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) and Montreal Canadiens center Cedric Paquette (13) during the third period a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Montreal Canadiens at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. The Blues beat the Candiens 4-1 and play the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, Dec. 12. Photo by Daniel Shular, dshular@post-dispatch.com

At a point in the season where all injury discussion becomes extremely — and at times comically — vague, even the handful of words Blues coach Craig Berube used to describe defenseman Torey Krug’s condition did not sound good.

“It’s going to be some time,” he said.

Krug, who hurt his left leg in the first period when he hit the boards trying to check Matt Boldy, brings to four the number of top-six defensemen the Blues have been without during the three games of the Blues-Wild first round playoff series, though one, Marco Scandella, has returned to action. Only Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk have played in each of the first three games among the top six.

And while the Blues may be down a defenseman again, a possible reinforcement could be at hand. Berube said after practice Saturday at Centene Community Ice Center that Scott Perunovich, out since Jan. 15 with a bad wrist that required surgery, could be ready to go.

“We’ll see,” he said. “He’s a possibility right now too.”

The updates along the way on Perunovich have been vague as well. On the morning of Game 1, Berube said Perunovich’s return “might be sooner than you think.” But after Game 2, in which the Blues lost both Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo, Berube downplayed the prospect of Perunovich stepping in for Game 3.

On Saturday, there was Perunovich, running one of the power-play units in the spot normally filled by Krug. Though it was possible he was just holding the spot for Justin Faulk, who after playing 53 minutes, 50 seconds over Games 2 and 3 was given the morning off, Berube indicated it might have been an actual gig for the rookie.

“He can move the puck and moves well,” Berube said. “It was good to see him, he’s back and ready to go if we need him. We’ll see.

“He hasn’t played games in a long time. It was good that he could run that power play with Krug out right now. We’ll see how that goes. He needs some reps. It was one of the reasons we wanted to get out there today too.”

Perunovich last appeared in an NHL game on Jan. 15 against Toronto. He missed eight games with the wrist injury, then was sent to Springfield for a conditioning assignment, but on March 9, the team announced he would have surgery on his left wrist and be out for eight weeks, which ran to May 4.

The absence of Krug on the power play is one of the issues facing the Blues as they try to get back in the series.

“He’s ran that power play now for quite some time,” Berube said. “It’s been very successful, but he’s not around so somebody else has got to come in and do the job.”

Leddy and Bortuzzo did not take part in a short practice devoted mostly to the power play, but as soon as the formal part of the practice ended, the door at one end of the rink opened and the two skated onto the ice and the two then mostly skated by themselves around center ice while the rest of the team did shooting and puck drills. Bortuzzo, who took a puck to the face in Game 2, appeared to have a black eye but no other facial issues and had no visible facial protection other than the visor he had before.

Berube kept open the option that Leddy or Bortuzzo could play in Game 4, but considering their limited participation in practice on Saturday, that seems unlikely. But the fact they are back on the ice is a first step and, as Perunovich has showed, things can change quickly.

“It’s good,” Berube said. “We’ll see how they do on the ice today. I can’t answer that question (about availability) now. We’ll see how they do after the skate here.”

There remains the chance that none of the three can go, in which case the Blues still have Steven Santini, up from Springfield, ready to go.

Not late this time

After two 8:45 p.m. starts and an 8:50 p.m. start on Friday, the Blues get a more reasonable 3:30 p.m. start on Sunday (though Saturday’s 3:30 game started at 3:45).

“Those late games are tough on everybody, not much sleep,” said Blues forward David Perron. “With me with kids, and everyone, you still find a way to get up early anyway. So just grab your energy, reset and be ready to go.

“It was really I think an 8:50 start (Friday). That’s crazy. I don’t get it all, but it is what it is.”

Fleury and Fuhr

Minnesota’s Game 3 win gave goalie Marc-Andre Fleury his 92nd win, tying him with Grant Fuhr for third on the all-time list. Fuhr got there in 150 games, Fleury in 165. Fuhr got 15 of those wins with the Blues.

“I’m sure I’ve played a lot more games than he has to get there,” Fleury said. “I think he was spectacular. Sometimes he would give up some goals but he would always find a way to finish up games and win games. He’s got so many championships and went to the Finals so many times. He’s obviously a legend up there.”

Late or not late

All the Blues were on ice ready for practice on Saturday, with one exception: Berube. At 12:46 p.m., he came on to the ice to hoots from his players and his assistant coaches. As Berube skated on, he pointed to the clock at one end of the rink.

“I don’t think I was late,” he said. “I thought it was starting at 1. Somebody changed it on me.”

Since Berube is in charge of practices, he should know.

“I made it 1 o’clock,” he said, “so we started early.”

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