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St. Louis Blues struggle to process Jay Bouwmeester incident

Most hockey games are just that, games. Tuesday was a stark reminder of that.

That’s when St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode on the bench while playing the Anaheim Ducks, lost consciousness and had to be revived by medical personnel with a defibrillator. The frightening scene, which led to the game being postponed, provided eerie perspective on how life can change in an instant.

Somehow, the Blues have to turn their focus back to games. The NHL grind is unrelenting, especially for the defending Stanley Cup champions. So the team now faces the unenviable task of getting back to hockey when its thoughts often stray from the rink.

“We’ve all been through a lot,” center Ryan O’Reilly said. “You can tell, we miss (Bouwmeester). For myself, every game I’ve played here in the last two years, he’s been here. It’s weird not having him in the room, and just his presence alone is such a calming thing for our team.”

Bouwmeester, who had surgery Friday to insert a defibrillator to restore his heart’s normal rhythm, was part of perhaps the league’s best blue line. Him not being on the ice is a huge loss for the Blues, who had allowed at least three goals in their last 10 games entering Saturday.

They went 2-5-3 in that stretch and suddenly have the Colorado Avalanche on their heels in the Central Division. That span includes a 6-5 overtime loss to the Golden Knights in their first game after Bouwmeester’s incident, a game in which coach Craig Berube said his players weren’t “very sharp” mentally.

“It’s a pretty tough time,” left wing Zach Sanford said afterward.

It will continue to be difficult for the Blues to battle for points while thinking of their recovering teammate. Returning home should help, as Saturday began a stretch in which the team plays three of four at home.

Captain Alex Pietrangelo said as much Thursday after the loss to the Knights.

“I think we’re all looking forward to getting home, going to see (Bouwmeester’s) wife (Devon) and hugging our kids and our wives and spending a couple days at home,” Pietrangelo said.

McDavid’s impact

Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid is out two to three weeks with a quad injury, general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday.

The Oilers better hope he’s not gone any longer than that. The team’s play with and without their 23-year-old center is staggering.

Edmonton is outscoring its opponents 53-51 at 5-on-5 with McDavid on the ice and being outscored 78-59 with him off it.

Another one bites the dust

Bruce Boudreau became the eighth NHL coach to lose his job this season when Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin fired him Friday.

Boudreau, like most of the rest, can put a lot of the blame for his dismissal on goaltending. The Wild had the 25th-best team save percentage in the league when Boudreau was fired. The fact that the team was three points out of a playoff spot despite its poor play in net and a lack of star forwards is a huge testament to his coaching.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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