St. Louis Blues Jaden Schwartz Return Both Good And Bad

ST. PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 2: Jaden Schwartz
ST. PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 2: Jaden Schwartz /

The St. Louis Blues are clearly ready for Jaden Schwartz to return to their lineup as they need some help. However, their play while he was absent leaves much to be desired.

The St. Louis Blues have put themselves and fans in a bit of a conundrum. The semi-imminent return of Jaden Schwartz is now met with mixed feelings at best.

Many people are probably scratching their heads to that statement. After all, how could it be anything but good to have the guy that was leading the team in scoring before his injury return?

The answer is not as simple as it would seem though. Clearly the Blues need help offensively. When Schwartz went down, they went from one of the higher ranked teams in the league offensively to a mediocre one at best and a poor one at worst.

There is no doubt that his loss had a profound impact on this team. Brayden Schenn seems to have been impacted the most.

Schenn was on fire before Schwartz’ injury. He is still doing well, but of his 19 goals only four have come since the injury – two of those came in the last two games played. That was a big gap between goals.

The team’s offense has sputtered overall as well.

St. Louis currently has 142 goals scored. That’s not too bad and, in fact, still more than three other Western Conference playoff teams.

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The problem is most of those were scored before the injury. St. Louis only has 41 goals since Schwartz went down. That’s 2.2 goals a game.

That stat has been pushed up with some three and four goal performances lately. However, now the defense is faltering and the Blues have actually lost three of the last four where three or more goals were scored.

So, how does any of that make Schwartz’ return a bad thing? It should not.

His return puts players back into normal positions. The Blues can stop shuffling both wingers around Schenn and, hopefully, the chemistry between those two returns.

Vladimir Tarasenko can either be put on a line with those two or have some pressure taken off if he’s on a different line but the top defenders go against the Schenn line. You have more freedom to put guys in certain spots because you are only looking for one wing to fit a current pair instead of two wings fitting to a center, as the Blues have now.

The flip side of that is the pressure you put on Schwartz. The last time he was injured, there was similar pressure and he played well down the stretch. However, it’s a lot to ask a player that has missed almost 20 games to return to leading scorer form.

On top of that, and perhaps more importantly, this team never learned to play without him. That is extremely discouraging.

We can go on about how much scoring they are missing and whether or not Schwartz is actually the team’s best player (an idea that has been floated around social media. Other teams have similar problems and are thriving.

Winnipeg lost their leading scorer, Mark Scheifele, nine games ago. The Jets are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They’re still scoring 3.3 goals per game without him.

It does have to be said that the Blues have been hit hard with injury this season. Perhaps the Schwartz injury was one too many and the will of the team could not be sustained.

They’ve run that barrel dry though. The Blues are healthy enough now that the loss of one player, no matter how talented, should not continually be the reason they are not producing.

Schwartz would not have been the difference in that debacle against Arizona. He would not have been able to save the Blues from several of their bad performances.

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We should not expect him to be the team’s savior. Hopefully the team does not see him as that either. If they expect him to return and suddenly they’ll return to their October form, the entire squad is mistaken.

As fans, we would celebrate a return to winning form, but we should also be concerned if they shift on a dime too. That basically means that if you shut down one player in the playoffs, the team will fall apart again.

We are all looking forward to Schwartz’ return and hopefully it will be a jolt of energy. The fact that the Blues never learned to play without him is very concerning and makes his return feel more like a band-aid.