The St. Louis Blues added to their end-of-the-year woes on Friday night. Carl Gunnarsson took a hard hit into the boards by Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat in Friday’s 4-1 win. He immediately left the game. Afterward, it was revealed that Gunnarsson had torn his ACL on the play and is going to miss the rest of the year. The injury will require surgery and is likely going to sideline Gunnarsson for around six months.
Carl Gunnarsson to Miss the Rest of the Season with Torn ACL
Gunnarsson has been a quiet success story for the Blues. The 31-year-old has 15 points in 63 games this year. While not impressive, what has been impressive are his abilities on the defensive end. Gunnarsson has blocked 102 shots this season. This is almost double what he totalled last year. Gunnarsson has been a defensively-strong player in a lineup that has seen their defensive lapses. He has fought for a spot as the sixth defenseman on the team this year, often being sidelined in favour of Vince Dunn or Robert Bortuzzo. He found his niche in the defensive zone and won over head coach Mike Yeo as a result.
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This injury adds to the Blues struggles with injury. The team is currently without goaltender Carter Hutton and forward Scottie Upshall. Though both players did participate in Friday’s optional morning skate, there isn’t a solidified return date for either. The Blues will also be missing Gunnarsson’s usual defensive partner, Jay Bouwmeester, for the rest of the season with a hip injury. Bouwmeester has a similar timetable to Gunnarsson when it comes to returning to the lineup.
With two holes in the defence, players like Jordan Schmaltz and Jake Walman could see regular NHL playing time. Both players have had been star players for their respective AHL teams. Schmaltz was the Blues only AHL all-star this year and has 23 points in 31 games to date. He has played in a total of 19 NHL games and only recorded three assists in them. 10 of those games came this season, where he had one assist. Walman was also called up by the Blues but never made his NHL debut. The 22-year-old is playing in his first AHL season after attending Providence College for four years. In his inaugural season, he currently has 17 points in 52 games.
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