(HockeyStL) - Blues forward Ryan Reaves will be sidelined for at least four weeks with a broken hand according to head coach Ken Hitchcock. The loss is a big one for the Blues, who are off to their best start in franchise history.
Reaves sustained the injury in a first-period fight with Dallas’ Brenden Dillon on Saturday. He did not return to the game after serving his five-minute major penalty.
The Blues announced during the first intermission that Reaves would not return to the game and was out with an “upper-body injury”. Reaves was cut on the side of his face by the skate blade of a Stars player just prior to his fight with Dillon, so the assumption was that Reaves simply required repairs. However, that was not the injury that kept him from returning to the game. A more serious hand injury was to blame.
Reaves threw multiple punches that landed, all of them with force, in his fight with Dillon. One of them resulted in a broken hand for the forward.
"He hit that fella quite hard," Hitchcock said in a postgame interview posted on the Blues website.
Reaves had just two minutes, 45 seconds of ice time, split between five shifts on Saturday. But despite his early exit, Reaves tied Max Lapierre for the most hits by a Blue in the game with three.
"I know he only played five shifts before he got hurt, but he had five really good shifts,” said Hitchcock. “We're going to miss him, but other guys are going to step up for us.
Though he is widely known for his fighting ability, Reaves has shown an offensive touch this year. He has four points (two goals, two assists) this season and has played in all 22 of the Blues’ games.
“It’s not so much his offense as his anticipation,” said Hitchcock a few weeks ago when describing Reaves’ play this season. “He is a smart player.”
As Hitchcock said, the Blues are going to have to have other players step up during Reaves’ absence. Magnus Paajarvi and Adam Cracknell are two players that are going to get a big opportunity to prove themselves.
Paajarvi has been playing more consistently of late, filling the role of a fourth-line winger. The Swedish forward was in the lineup for all three games on the Blues’ recent road trip while Patrik Berglund was recovering from an upper-body injury. Paajarvi was a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game because Berglund returned.
On the recent three-game road trip, Paajarvi picked up his first goal of the season and played well when called upon.
The Blues’ other forward option, Adam Cracknell, has not played since Nov. 7.Though Cracknell has more experience with the Blues, Paajarvi may have the better chance of getting into the lineup for the bulk of the games. Hitchcock won’t be afraid to use either of the two.
Reaves told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he had an X-ray taken on his hand prior to the postgame interview and was expecting to have more taken on Monday. The timetable for his return could change after Monday’s X-ray, depending on the findings.