(HockeySTL) -- The Blues will be without top defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay and for the foreseeable future due to an injury to the abdomen that will require surgery.
Shattenkirk, who is the NHL’s top defenseman when it comes to assists (32) and power-play points (24), will miss an undisclosed amount of time due to the injury and procedure. He will undergo abdominal surgery within the next 7-10 days. After the procedure, the defenseman will be listed as week-to-week, according to the club.
Shattenkirk was injured in Sunday’s game against Washington after breaking up an Alexander Ovechkin-led chance. Following the play, Shattenkirk’s collision with Ovechkin and his skating momentum led to the defenseman sliding into the boards. Shattenkirk’s lower-body took the brunt of the force from the collision, which was not a noticeably hard one.
The defenseman was able to skate off the ice with no assistance but limped immediately to the locker room. He did not return.
More than halfway through the season, Shattenkirk is piecing together a Norris Trophy worthy season with eight goals, 40 points and a plus-18 rating. He is on pace to break his current career-high point total (45), which he set last season.
Last month, Shattenkirk was honored as one of the selections for the annual All-Star Game. In the three games since the break, Shattenkirk has one point.
Shattenkirk is also averaging 22:54 of ice time per game, which, defensively, is third on the Blues behind Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. On Sunday, Pietrangelo played 30:38 to account for a chunk of Shattenkirk’s time after he left the game.
“It’s really hard (to play that way and have success),” said teammate and fellow defenseman Barret Jackman last week. “He has a lot of responsibility. He has to be part of the play every shift. He has to play 25 minutes every game. To be in the rush and not give up plays defensively it takes a lot of hockey sense and a lot of hard work.”
Chris Butler, who has been a healthy scratch for the last seven games will slot into the lineup in Shattenkirk's absence for Tuesday's game against the Lightning. The team is also expected to be without forwards Jori Lehtera and Patrik Berglund, who suffered upper-body injuries last Thursday. No update has been given on either of the two players since their respective injuries.