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Blues avoid injury disaster, Erik Johnson returns to the lineup tonight

Dec 18, 2010, 5:49 PM EDT

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Three nights ago, Blues defenseman Erik Johnson sprained his surgically repaired right knee causing Blues fans and coaches to have nightmares thinking he could be seriously injured once again.

Fortunately for the Blues, Johnson is ready to go and will play tonight against San Jose. Jeremy Rutherford from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gets the low down on what’s up with Johnson’s knee.

Johnson left Wednesday’s game in the first period after colliding with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk. The injury was serious enough that he didn’t return to the game, but he didn’t know the extent of it until meeting with Blues team physician Rick Wright Thursday morning.

“So that’s kind of why it was a pretty frightening thing for me,” Johnson said. “Waking up and seeing the doctor in the morning kind of eased my thoughts a little bit just because he didn’t think it was too serious. We just got the results and thankfully, it was just a strain. That (needing surgery) would have been a heart-breaker for sure.”

Johnson is one of, if not the, key defenseman in the Blues lineup. He’s having an off year this season but he’s the guy that keys their power play and is one of their defensive leaders as well. When Johnson missed all of the 08-09 season after injuring his knee in a golf cart folly during the off-season, his absence was felt in a big way as the defense held the Blues back from advancing further in the playoffs than they did. Going through another situation like that this year with a team that’s very capable of making the playoffs and winning would’ve been heart breaking for such a young team.

Now that he’s healthy he’ll have to work on improving his overall game so guys like youngster Alex Pietrangelo and veteran Carlo Colaiacovo don’t have to carry the burden. Getting improved play from Johnson and captain Eric Brewer would go a long way towards helping Jaroslav Halak return to the kind of play we saw out of him at the start of the season.

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