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Blues put Bortuzzo on IR; Berube remakes lines

Blues put Bortuzzo on IR; Berube remakes lines

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Blues workout at home before departure

St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo practices during morning workout on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

MARYLAND HEIGHTS — The Blues put defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve on Sunday after he took a hit to the head early in Friday's blowout loss to Colorado.

The team is describing it as an upper body injury, but a concussion seems the likely culprit after Bortuzzo was hit in the head with the shoulder of Valeri Nichushkin. Bortuzzo played a couple more shifts and then left the game. His total ice time was 1:28 for the game.

The league's Department of Player Safety chose to take no action against Nichushkin, two days after suspending the Blues' Sammy Blais for two games for what was ruled an illegal hit to the head on Colorado's Devon Toews.

Craig Berube said he was surprised there was no punishment for Nichushkin.

"Yeah, I am," he said. "I did not like the hit at all. I think it's a tough play. That's the way it is. ... It's a bad loss. He's a good player for us, a real good leader, he's a good penalty killer. He's out now."

Putting Bortuzzo on IR means he will be out for at least seven days. If the move was backdated to Saturday, he conceivably would miss only the two games with San Jose on Monday and Wednesday.

With Bortuzzo out, Carl Gunnarsson will move back into the lineup. He skated with Vince Dunn on Sunday at Centene Community Ice Center.

Bortuzzo's injury set in motion some moves. Defenseman Niko Mikkola was moved from the taxi squad to the main squad, and Jake Walman was called up from the AHL to the taxi squad. Both skated with the full team on Sunday. Forward Jake Neighbours, who had been sent to Utica, was also called up to the taxi squad.

Moving, shaking

In a non-surprising development after an 8-0 loss, coach Craig Berube re-did almost his entire offense on Sunday.

Zach Sanford returned to his spot with Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron he had much of the end of last season. Brayden Schenn returned to center, playing between Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Kyrou. Robert Thomas stayed at center, but on the third line between Mike Hoffman and Tyler Bozak. The fourth line stayed the same.

"I think it makes us a little more balanced, for sure," Berube said. "I'm still tinkering with getting chemistry going. We like to use four lines, we like them to all be producing and doing good things. That's all. I think there's going to be some tinkering going on for a bit, who knows? The O'Reilly line, they played together before, Schenn and Schwartz had played together a bunch, Thommer and Bozak, Sunny and Barby, these pairs have been together for quite some time."

The lines and pairings:

Forwards

  • Sanford-O'Reilly-Perron
  • Schwartz-Schenn-Kyrou
  • Hoffman-Thomas-Bozak
  • Clifford-Barbashev-Sundqvist

Defensemen

  • Krug-Parayko
  • Scandella-Faulk
  • Dunn-Gunnarsson

Goalies

  • Binnington
  • Husso

Power play units:

  • Krug, Schenn, Perron, O'Reilly, Schwartz
  • Sanford, Hoffman, Dunn, Bozak, Thomas
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