By Roderick M. Wilbon, Sports Editor
The Saint Louis Blues are coming off a successful road trip at 4-2 now. The team is looking very different from when they did in the preseason. Many fans and writers were concerned for the missing players that are injured and a core of the team. Many of them thought the Blues would take a lot of loses in the beginning of the season. The question of which players would step up was the real issue. Thus far the best move the Blues made was letting the younger guys get a shot.
The 2016-2017 season for the Blues had the same injury issue throughout most of the season. They battled though and many of the replacements came in and produced. They finally got healthy right when it counted at playoff time. The resilience paid off with the Blues getting farther in the playoffs than they had in a decade. They made it to round two of the NHL Playoffs—a great feat.
Brayden Schenn is the best promotion I have seen since Robby Fabbri last season. Schenn, #10, center, has come in playing on the first line. He is making big impacts on the team with his assists and enforcing his will on opponents. Schenn was acquired from the Flyers in the Jori Lehtera trade, a trade that some thought was very risky. Now it is paying dividends and he has been shining every day since training camp.
Before the regular season started, sports-writers such as Bernie Miklasz of 101Sports.com and Roderick Wilbon of thecurrent-online.com were calling Jaden Schwartz out, left-wing, #17, for his unenthused, hesitant, and lost preseason play. Fans have not seen the supposed 30-goal-scorer that is a core member of this team. Quickly, Schwartz has caught fire since the regular season started with two goals and five assists thus far. Sports-writers can hold their tongues now about Schwartz if he keeps this high octane play up for the full season.
The Blues did take a beating from the Florida Panthers 5-2 on October 12. The shots on goal were 39-38 Blues for the game. Once, the Blues scored in the 2nd Period, the Panthers just confused the defense. Many of the goals they had the defense out of place and confused, or just plainly beat them. The Blues have matched the best start in franchise history. In the game Vince Dunn, defense, #29, scored his first goal. Paul Stastny, center, #26, is red hot; Vladimir Tarasenko, ace, right wing, #91, is not only scoring but assisting with goals, too. Finally, Alex Pietrangelo, captain, #27, is leading all NHL defensemen in points this season.
Blues also brought up Sammy Blais before October 14’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning game. The game was his first professional debut. Blais recorded two shots on goal and 2 blocks in a game in which the Blues tried to turn it late in the game. The final score was a 2-1 loss for the Blues.
“We gotta be sharper, and know when we get on the ice the situation in the game,” said Mike Yeo. “They played a good game over there, and they’re a good team.
“Mostly we beat ourselves though with mistakes, and that’s a bad recipe playing against a good team,” said Yeo.
The Blues return home October 18 to face the BlackHawks—the dreaded rivals who are always a sore spot in the Blues’ side. It will be a great home game and a packed house. For more information visit https://www.nhl.com/blues.