The St. Louis Blues will have to do without Alex Steen for the foreseeable future.
The Blues placed Steen on injured reserve with a concussion, taking some of the offensive punch out of a St. Louis squad that has been one of the NHL’s best throughout the season.
Though Steen is able to work out, there is no timetable for his return, according to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong in a press release.
Steen hasn’t played since Dec. 21 against the Edmonton Oilers, where he left after the second period with an upper body injury.
Steen has been the primary catalyst for Ken Hitchcock’s Blues so far this season. Though he’s cooled down from his torrid pace to start the season, Steen is still second in the NHL with 24 goals, which ties a career-high set in 2009-10, and also his third career 20-goal season in the NHL.
He was well on his way to surpassing his career high of 51 points, also set in 2009-10, but Steen’s offensive timing has been important, too. Of Steen’s 24 goals, five have come on the power play (along with four assists), while his six game-winning goals are second-best in the NHL behind Anaheim’s Corey Perry. Steen is currently tied for 12th in NHL scoring with 38 points.
The timing of the injury couldn’t be much worse for Steen or the Blues, as they have a relatively tough schedule over the next three weeks or so, starting with a huge game at home against Chicago tonight. The Blues have four games in hand over the league-leading Blackhawks, and they’re seven points back in the Central Division.
From there, the schedule stays tough, as 14 of their next 17 games before the Olympic break come against teams who are either in a playoff spot, or sit two points out at most.
From Steen’s perspective, being out for any significant length of time may also affect his availability to Team Sweden for the Sochi Olympics.
While getting Steen back quickly would be great, concussions must be treated properly so as not to affect Steen’s long-term health. Steen will turn 30 in March, so he may just be late hitting his NHL prime. In addition, Steen just signed a three-year, $17.4 million contract extension with the Blues, so it’s important that he doesn’t get rushed back.