Alexander Steen will be back in the lineup when the St. Louis Blues take on the Washington Capitals tonight, and the timing of his return couldn’t be better. The breakout sniper last appeared on April 1, and it doesn’t seem like a coincidence that St. Louis’ recent struggles have coincided with the absence of Steen.
Alexander Steen will return tonight from an upper-body injury. #stlblues
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 8, 2014
Following the April 1 contest against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Blues barely managed to squeak out a win over the lowly Buffalo Sabres. That didn’t bode well for this last weekend’s set against the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks, and St. Louis was taken apart by two of the Western Conference’s top teams.
Much was made about how both of these teams defeated the Blues despite injuries. Colorado didn’t have Matt Duchene or P.A. Parenteau, while Chicago was without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Let’s be fair here: St. Louis was down a pair of top-six forwards as well.
Steen was out, and Vladimir Tarasenko is still recovering from surgery. That’s not an excuse. It’s simply an observation. St. Louis’ leading scorer might not have the respect around the NHL like a Kane or Duchene, but he’s a remarkably important part of the attack for the Blues.
He’s been outstanding on the team’s top line all season long, and after the squad only posted two goals over the weekend, the return of a 30-goal man will be a welcome one. The Capitals will be fighting for their playoff lives—without Jaroslav Halak in net—and Steen certainly ups St. Louis’ chances of finding the back of the net more than once or twice.
Just a few weeks ago the Blues were taking a run at the Presidents’ Trophy. That’s certainly still a goal, but now they suddenly have the Avalanche breathing down their necks for the Central Division title. Wins mean a bit more now than maybe they would have, and Steen will be the boost that St. Louis seemingly needs.