When it comes to St. Louis Blues players, and hockey players in general, you often never know what is truly going on behind the scenes. You can think a player is not performing up to expectations when in fact there is something else going on.
Sometimes, what may seem a mundane season or just an OK season is actually a Herculean effort. That turned out to be the case for Brayden Schenn in 2021-22.
Schenn played 62 regular season games and still contributed 24 goals and 58 points. That was more than decent considering he missed 20 regular season games.
What we as fans did not know was that Schenn had suffered broken ribs. Now I have not broken any ribs, but I have pulled rib muscles and even then, I know – there is no way to make the pain go away and there is no way to immobilize the area.
You can either do nothing at all or just deal with it. Schenn not only dealt with it, but played one of the most violent sports in the world, as far as collision speed goes.
What is more, this was not just some playoff run that he endured through. Schenn picked up the injury early in the season, missing most of his time in November of 2021.
So, he basically played six months with rib injuries. Those don’t tend to heal with body contact, so he not only did not recover from the initial injury, but there is speculation that he acquired extra ribs broken.
Regardless of whether it was one or three or however many, that’s borderline unbelievable. Knowing that he played an entire year, almost, suddenly 24 goals and 58 points becomes a truly remarkable feat.
Fast forward through an offseason and you have to wonder what Schenn can accomplish if he’s fully healthy. If the guy can score 58 points racked with pain, can he replicate the 70 points he had in 2017-18?
I don’t think Schenn eclipses that point total mark, mainly because he’s starting the 2022-23 season on the third line. He may not play the entire season there, but that alone may limit his assist totals.
However, a fully healthy Schenn is capable of putting up 30 goals if he has a good season. Some might think that’s a stretch since 28 is his career high, but he’s basically improved every year with the Blues and his scoring totals have only dipped when the team asked him to take on roles other than scoring.
The Blues will still need him to be physical and defensively sound, but they can use his offense just as much, if not more now. The loss of David Perron has to be filled by committee and an extra 4-6 goals from a healthy Schenn would do just that.
Beyond just the scoring, a healthy Schenn can become another faceoff threat. Looking at the stats, that’s really the only place he dipped due to the injury. Even then, winning 49.1% of his draws is about his average with the Blues.
So, you wonder how much the injury affected him. In terms of numbers, it doesn’t seem like much.
He still had 119 hits, which is amazing since he’s had 119 hits the last three seasons, whether healthy or not. He had offensive numbers which were as good as anything he’s put up in St. Louis, except those 70 points.
But you have to figure it affected him. Even if he took pills or got shots, it has to affect you mentally to deal with that constantly.
Assuming he is healthy in 2022-23, you have to figure a weight has been lifted from his mind. Just imagine a guy that plays as hard as he does not having to hold back in a board battle or not have to worry if throwing a check in the corner will give him some twinge of pain.
The mental relief alone should provide the Blues with an improved player. Even if it only amounts to an extra two goals or three points, the team still benefits.
Schenn didn’t muster a single goal in the 2022 playoffs. Maybe it was just one of those things or maybe he was worn down from months of pain.
That’s when Schenn being healthy could really have an impact. All players are going to be banged and bruised up come playoff time, but not dealing with broken ribs when the game is at its most intense and physical, you have to figure he would make a gigantic impact in that scenario.
Hockey players always find a way to amaze. Just when it seemed like Schenn was fading into the background in favor of names like Kyrou and Thomas and O’Reilly, we hear this kind of story.
30 might be toward the back half of a career, but my goodness. Knowing he can gut it out and score that many goals and connect on that many points when dealing with an injury that will never heal if you don’t rest it is mind boggling.
Wondering what he can accomplish if his body has recovered is even more exciting. Maybe 70 is out of reach, but I expect a big year from Schenner if he’s healthy.