The St. Louis Blues are one of the most dysfunctional teams in the NHL but they could be getting some reinforcements in the form of Jaden Schwartz.
We have gotten to the point in the season where you can say “oh, the St. Louis Blues should be able to beat this team” because, at this point in the season, that is what 30 other teams are saying about the Blues.
This is the first meeting with the Florida Panthers this season, they were a disappointing team in 2017 but have found themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division once again in 2018.
Florida Panthers (8th Place In Atlantic)
Last 10: 3-4-3
The Panthers are led by future Hall of Fame goalie Roberto Luongo, who on the season has a goals against average of below three and a save percentage above 900.
Offensively for Florida, they can be extremely streaky. They have plenty of goal scorers on their team besides Huberdeau and Hoffman, players like Evgeni Dadonov and defenseman Keith Yandle are both capable of contributing offensively.
The biggest storyline heading into this game is the possible return of Jaden Schwartz.
After one of the most bizarre practices (yes, practices) in recent Blues memory, Schwartz was asked where he was in his recovery, and he said he felt good and will wait until tomorrow until he makes a decision.
The return of Schwartz does not need much buildup. He has been one of the best, if not the best, Blues over the past handful of seasons and his return to the lineup will bolster the club tremendously.
It has been reported that Schwartz could be placed on a line with David Perron and Brayden Schenn. Perron was a healthy scratch (for some reason) in the Blues previous game against the Vancouver Canucks, so it looks like he will be back in the lineup against the Panthers.
For those of you who did not hear, there was an intrasquad scuffle between Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sanford during practice. Many have taken to social media to try and figure out the deeper meaning behind the fight.
For me, it is simple, there is so much stress that goes into being a professional athlete. You have cameras on you 24/7 and are constantly scrutinized. On top of all of this, the Blues have one of the worst records in the entire league.
Naturally, something had to give. I am not excusing any of Bortuzzo’s or Sanford’s actions, I will never condone fighting your own teammates in practice. However, we saw a few years ago when David Backes dropped the gloves with Vladimir Tarasenko in practice, that a fight like this could reignite the team.
It might be too little too late for the Blues at this point in the season, but I wish the Blues would show this kind of heart and emotion against their opponents.
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As mentioned in the article above, the Blues placed Chad Johnson on waivers yesterday, so it is officially the Jake Allen show until the Blues make another move. This, however, is not a bad thing, Allen has been standing on his head for the better part of a month, and I expect it to continue tonight.