One of the interesting things being discussed lately on various St. Louis Blues related social media is the importance of Jaden Schwartz. Nobody doubts his talent, but it has been a discussion of the importance of one player versus a team.
There has been a clear impact in the team during Schwartz’ absence. Prior to his injury, the Blues were among the top scoring teams in the league.
Since the injury, the Blues have scored 29 goals in 15 games. Not a terrible number, but that’s 1.9 goals per game.
The Blues have scored three or more goals only six times – really five since one three goal game came in a shootout win where an extra goal is awarded via the victory. St. Louis has also not scored more than three in any game since Schwartz’ departure, unless you count the 6-1 win in which he got hurt.
You can argue about the validity of one man being that important. You can argue that the team needed to band together and play better despite his absence.
Those are not invalid points. Any team built on one person is unlikely to win when things get really tough in the playoffs.
We’ve seen that with Vladimir Tarasenko, when teams shut him down and the Blues faltered because of it. We’ve seen it in the past when Brett Hull was the team’s only real offense.
So, if your other players are not going to or are incapable of stepping up, then one player can be that important.
Regardless of production, sometimes the absence of a player upsets the chemistry of a tight group. Brayden Schenn was white hot prior to the injury. He’s only scored two goals and recorded seven points since.
Yes, the Blues needed to step up to the plate and keep things rolling after that injury. It’s not surprising they could not though.
Sometimes it is just a mental drain for bad things to keep happening. The Blues have had no games with their entire projected starting lineup together this season. Even if you remove the season ending injuries from that equation, you could count the number of games together on one hand with a healthy group.
The Blues are hoping that will come to an end soon. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Schwartz was without crutches or a walking boot as recently as last week.
The four week mark of the injury came just before the team’s dreadful performance in Philadelphia. So, it is not far from the realm of possibility that Schwartz could be ready to rejoin the team after the bye week.
The game against Toronto on January 16 might be pushing it, but there is now reason to hope at least. When the Blues play Arizona on January 20, that will mark six weeks exactly.
If there is a setback once he resumes skating, we are looking at February for his return.
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Either way, his return cannot come soon enough. Regardless of how you feel about how his injury should have impacted the team, the bottom line is that it has.
They need a healthy Schwartz to regain a decent scoring depth and get players back into roles they are comfortable with.
Hopefully it will only be a game or two left without him.