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BLUES NOTEBOOK

Blues notebook: Wrist surgery for Perunovich will keep him out eight weeks

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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

The goalies can't be blamed for this slog. Jeff Gordon and Ben Frederickson say the team's other stars have to step up.

Rookie defenseman Scott Perunovich’s season is effectively over with the team’s announcement on Wednesday that he is going to have surgery on his left wrist and will be reevaluated in eight weeks.

There are seven weeks remaining in the regular season, so Perunovich would likely be out until the first day of the playoffs. At that point, he won’t have played in 3½ months, so unless the Blues have an extended playoff run, it would be difficult for him to play again this season.

Perunovich hasn’t played since Jan. 15 and has played just once since Jan. 5. The surgery will be done in New York.

It’s another setback for Perunovich, who missed all of last season after having surgery on his left shoulder in February (which, under COVID-altered schedules, was the start of the season) after having his college season in 2019-20 end early because of COVID. Because of all that, Perunovich has played in just 36 professional games, 19 in the NHL, 17 in the AHL, since his last college game in March 2020.

Perunovich did well in camp but because he hadn’t played a competitive game in more than 20 months, the Blues chose to have him start this season — and his professional career — in Springfield of the AHL. It didn’t take long for him to show he was ready for the NHL and was called up on Nov. 15 and made his NHL debut the next day. He immediately became a regular in the lineup, though his play leveled off and on Dec. 17, he was a healthy scratch for the first time. He was back in the lineup the next game and played in four games, including the Winter Classic, before testing positive for COVID and missing three games. He returned to the lineup against Toronto on Jan. 15 but hasn’t played in the NHL since.

The Blues were uncertain of when he could return to action and he didn’t go on injured reserve until Jan. 30. Still hopeful of a return, the Blues sent him to Springfield for a rehab assignment on Feb. 14 and he played five games with a goal and an assist before returning to St. Louis for another evaluation, his third in all. On Wednesday, it was decided he would have surgery.

Perunovich had no goals and six assists 19 games with the Blues and had three goals and 19 assists in 17 games at Springfield.

Perunovich has been on long-term injured reserve, and the Blues have already been using the limited cap space (about $925,000) that creates, to call up forwards such as Dakota Joshua and now Alexei Toropchenko.

Scandella return near

In other Blues defenseman injury news, coach Craig Berube said Marco Scandella, who has missed 11 games with a lower-body injury, could be back in the lineup on Thursday. Scandella was on the ice for pregame warmups on Tuesday and has been skating regularly with the team.

“I think Scandella’s ready to go tomorrow,” Berube said, and it sounds like if he can go, he’ll be in. “I don’t want to say he’s going to be in and then he’s not. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Scandella had appeared in every game for the Blues, the last player with a perfect record, when he missed the Jan. 12 game with Chicago. Last week, the Blues placed him on injured reserve, though he had already missed enough games to be eligible to return when he was needed. The Blues have had 22 players on their roster, so no move will be needed to bring Scandella back.

The most likely slot for Scandella is on the third pairing with Robert Bortuzzo, though Jake Walman has done well in that spot lately.

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