Schwartz proving to be vital to Blues offense
ST. LOUIS — Reunited and it feels so good.
The return of forward Jaden Schwartz from injury Tuesday means the St. Louis Blues put him back on a line with Brayden Schenn and David Perron. The pairing provided immediate dividends in Schwartz’s first game back, a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, with Perron scoring twice, Schwartz assisting both times and Schenn assisting once.
While players have been in and out of the lineup, the penalty kill has been consistent. The Blues have killed 18 straight man advantages heading into their home game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, a stretch dating to Dec. 1.
The Blues’ penalty kill is at 84.8 percent, fourth in the league.
“Goaltending’s been great,” Blues center Ryan O’Reilly told NHL.com. “There’s been times with some huge saves, but also our ‘D’ is making massive blocks. I think we’re on the same page. I think the coaching staff’s good. I think they’ve been doing a great job all season of having us prepared and (knowing) what’s going on, but I think one thing that would be nice is we stay out of the box more.”
Because of injuries, the line of Schwartz, Schenn and Perron has played together only three times this season, against Calgary in the third game of the season, at Montreal in October and Tuesday.
Perron had a hat trick against Calgary, with Schenn assisting on all three goals. Against Montreal, Schenn scored a power-play goal with Perron assisting.
“You’ve got Schwartz who gets in there skating and forechecking, creates loose pucks,” Blues interim coach Craig Berube told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Brayden Schenn is a power-type forward too, good forechecker, physical, he’s around the net a lot, and you’ve got a finisher. David Perron is a very highly skilled player, great hands, he can pass or shoot. Kind of a good combination all around.”
Schenn likes playing with Perron and Schwartz.
“At the start of the year we had chemistry, then a couple of us got banged up there, and were unable to be put back together,” Schenn told the Post-Dispatch. “There’s a chance now and through one game we felt we had a good game. We have something to build on and we just want keep on getting better.”
The Blues beat the Avalanche 3-2 in overtime at Colorado on Nov. 30.
Colorado is coming off a 6-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at home Tuesday and have lost three of their last four.
“We touched on the Edmonton game a little bit, we watched video … We did some good things in that game; obviously, the result wasn’t there, but there are definitely some things we can fix up,” Avalanche forward Matt Calvert told NHL.com.
“We’ve got a big stretch coming up before we get four days off for Christmas and quite a bit of those are at home. We’ve got to come out with a better effort in front of our home crowd, get them involved earlier and have some fun with this before we get the break.”