The St. Louis Blues are getting some reinforcements on the blue line, as they have activated Robert Bortuzzo from the injured reserve. Bortuzzo has been sidelined for more than two weeks with a knee injury suffered against the Dallas Stars back in mid-February. The big defenseman had played in 55 games with the Blues up to that point and should jump back into the starting lineup sooner rather than later. According to The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, that could even be tonight in a re-match with the Stars with crucial divisional points on the line. The Blues then take four days off ahead of a season-defining road trip against Western wild card contenders: San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Colorado. If St. Louis is still alive in the playoff race after these next five games, they could look forward to another addition on defense in the return of Joel Edmundson. In the meantime, Bortuzzo will be looked upon to step up in his return.
- Another Central Division squad is getting deeper at a key position. After nearly two months of dealing with concussions symptoms, Steve Mason is on his way back to the Winnipeg net and just in time for the stretch run. The Jets announced today that they have assigned Mason to their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, on a conditioning stint. The Moose in turn announced that Mason will get the start tonight against the Iowa Wild. With just 11 appearances and two head injuries to his name this season, Mason may need some time in the minors to get back in the swing of things and a week plus in the AHL would not be a surprise, but he will eventually make his return to Winnipeg. However, his role has changed dramatically over the course of this season. Signed to a two-year, $8.2MM starter-value contract this summer to presumably bridge the gap to Connor Hellebuyck, Mason instead has performed poorly and missed considerable time, while Hellebuyck has flourished. Mason will settle for a backup role down the stretch, supplanting Michael Hutchinson, and likely next year as well.
- Auston Matthews isn’t quite ready to return to the Toronto lineup, but he is getting closer. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, in speaking with Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, says that Matthews has been skating regularly. Johnston adds that the fortunate part of an upper-body injury, in this case a separated shoulder, is that it doesn’t stop one from skating and keeping up with his conditioning. Matthews is known for his work ethic and has surely been skating hard while on the sidelines. Whenever the Leafs’ doctors give his shoulder the okay, he should be back at full force for Toronto. Sadly, that approval won’t be coming ahead of today’s outdoor game between the Leafs and Washington Capitals at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Matthews will miss his fourth straight game and fourteenth game due to injury in 2017-18.