The St. Louis Blues faced a setback as defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was placed on injured reserve following a lower-body injury sustained during a clash against the Montreal Canadiens. The injury, limiting Bortuzzo to just five shifts in the game on January 7, prompted his exit and subsequent placement on the injured reserve list, as confirmed by a team. At 33, Bortuzzo’s status was initially labeled day-to-day by head coach Craig Berube before this unfortunate development.
A Defense in Turmoil
The Blues’ defensive lineup has been fraught with injuries, now exacerbated with Bortuzzo’s absence. With three key defensemen – Torey Krug, Marco Scandella, and Scott Perunovich – already on the injured reserve list and Nick Leddy also sidelined without a definite return timeline, the team faces significant challenges in maintaining defensive stability.
Bortuzzo’s Impact and Current Season Performance
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Before his injury, Bortuzzo had contributed one point during the season, securing a goal against the Minnesota Wild on December 31. However, his playing time had dwindled to below 13 minutes per game, a stark contrast to his earlier seasons within the organization.
Viktor Arvidsson injured after taking two nasty cross-checks from Robert Bortuzzo pic.twitter.com/v8jVySeoab
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 24, 2019
Dmitri Samorukov Steps In
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With Bortuzzo out, the team called up defenseman Dmitri Samorukov from the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds to fill the void. Samorukov, acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers, has showcased defensive prowess but has faced challenges solidifying his role within the Blues’ setup. His opportunity now stands as a pivotal moment to establish himself in the team.
Bortuzzo’s Suspension and Past Incidents
Adding to the team’s woes, Bortuzzo faced a four-game suspension for cross-checking Nashville’s Victor Arvidsson during a recent game. This disciplinary action, announced by the league’s department of player safety, cited Bortuzzo’s prior infractions, deeming the cross-check as both predatory and reflective of a history as a repeat offender.
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History of Infractions
Bortuzzo’s past includes instances of fines and penalties for similar offenses. His current suspension compounds his previous fines for altercations with players like Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders and Boston’s Jordan Szwarz.
Further Complications from Bortuzzo’s Injury
Apart from the suspension, Bortuzzo’s injury, reportedly a facial injury sustained while blocking a shot against the Wild, adds strain to the Blues’ defensive lineup. With Calle Rosen already stepping up due to Leddy’s absence and Marco Scandella also dealing with an undisclosed injury, Bortuzzo’s extended absence could amplify the challenges for the defensively challenged team.
The Path Forward
As the Blues navigate this challenging period, the spotlight is on both the healing process for their injured players and the opportunity for those stepping in to fortify the team’s defensive stance. The coming games will test the resilience and adaptability of the team as they strive to overcome this hurdle and maintain their competitive edge in the league.
Robert Bortuzzo’s injury not only adds to the St. Louis Blues’ defensive crisis but also illuminates the fragility that often shadows professional athletes. In the competitive world of sports, injuries are an unavoidable reality, capable of abruptly altering the course of a player’s season and impacting the team’s dynamics.
Bortuzzo’s sidelined status doesn’t just denote a gap in the lineup but underscores the vulnerability inherent in the pursuit of athletic excellence. It is a reminder of the physical toll athletes endure and the intricate balance teams must strike between performance, player well-being, and navigating unforeseen hurdles.