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Thursday, November 11, 2010
T.J. Oshie's injury tests Blues' depth

By Pierre LeBrun

Now we find out if the St. Louis Blues, one the best stories in the NHL early this season, truly are the sum of their parts and not just a team relying on a few key parts.

Because right now, they're missing a number of them.

T.J. Oshie is the latest key component to go down, and talk about a body blow. The Blues found out he'd be out a minimum of three months after undergoing surgery Thursday afternoon to repair a fractured left ankle.

"You're hoping for the best news, but when they said they had to have the surgery and came out and said three months ... you dust yourself off and you get ready," Blues GM Doug Armstrong told ESPN.com Thursday night before his team's game against the Nashville Predators.

The Blues are now missing two-thirds of their top forward line with top center David Perron still out with concussion-like symptoms he suffered from a hit by San Jose Sharks star center Joe Thornton on Nov. 4.

"The headaches are still there and he's not scheduled to travel with us on this [three-game] road trip," Armstrong said, meaning Perron is out at least until a Nov. 19 home game with Ottawa.

The blue line is also hammered with injuries as Roman Polak (wrist laceration), Barret Jackman (sprained knee) and Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion symptoms) remain out.

But losing Oshie, arguably the team's most dynamic player, is the biggest blow of all.

"So now we have to find a way to produce offense without him in there," Armstrong said. "And I think now it's time for players like Andy McDonald, Brad Boyes and David Backes to step up and provide the leadership that we know they have."

The same test awaits on the blue line, although Colaiacovo skated "full-bore" Thursday and Armstrong said he would likely join the team on the road trip, which goes through Phoenix, Colorado and Detroit.

"We're tested back there obviously with three players out in Colaiacovo, Jackman and Polak, but we're asking younger players to step in there," Armstrong said. "And we're also asking Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo to take on a much bigger role defensively than maybe they thought they would have to take. And I'm excited to see how they'll progress through that."

The Blues aren't dependent on one or two superstars up front like other top teams. There's no Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos on this club. The belief, at least, is that the talent is more spread around, which will hopefully help in surviving this injury crisis.

"Going into the season that's why we felt we were going to be -- that we didn't have one alpha male that was sort of going to be targeted by every team," Armstrong said. "I thought what we had was a good collection of forwards who all could play the game and would all be asked to contribute."