USATSI_8353862_154158418_lowresSt. Louis Blues defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk is out indefinitely thanks to an injury that will require abdominal surgery. The plan is to have the surgery in the next seven to 10 days and follow that with week-to-week status.

This will be a big test for the Blues in terms of their blueline, as Shattenkirk was off to his best NHL start in about five years. In 49 games this season, he has 40 points. He’s a +18 and has four power play goals.

Shattenkirk suffered the injury on Sunday after a hit by Alex Ovechkin when the Blues took on the Washington Capitals. On the play, the defender took apart what could’ve been a breakaway from one of the league’s most potent offensive forces.

The St. Louis defenceman was considered a lock for a Norris Trophy nod and only Calgary’s Mark Giordano has more points among blueliners (42 points in 50 games).

In large part because of his play, the Blues were piling up wins. They’d gotten a win in 10 of their last 11 games and were zeroing in on the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division.

Luckily, St. Louis still has the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester to count on defensively. Pietrangelo plays over 25 minutes a game for the Blues and will get most of the top assignments, while Bouwmeester is not a bad player to have in your pocket.

But Shattenkirk is unquestionably a big driver in the Blues’ engine. His Corsi numbers – the differential in total number of shots put on goal – is an 8.78, tops for defenders on the club. Ian Cole is second among defenceman in St. Louis, with a 4.58 on-ice Corsi.

Obviously the Blues will miss this type of offensive force from the back end, especially as Pietrangelo has an on-ice Corsi of -0.65.

Fans can start looking for a shift in how St. Louis propels the attack with Shattenkirk out of the lineup, which could mean the club starts looking at options come trade deadline day. The most important thing over the next couple weeks will be the post-surgery outlook. From there, they’ll be able to generate a battle plan that will put them as far into the playoffs as possible.

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