Ever since he came onto the scene during the legendary 2019 cup run, St. Louis Blues fans have known Robert Thomas has an elite skill set. At just 20 years old he didn’t look out of place at all against some of the best teams in the NHL during those playoffs. If you think about it, he was about half an inch away from scoring one of, if not the, biggest goal in Blues history instead of picking up the assist to win it in double OT against Dallas. Again, at just 20 years old.
Although he impressed us with moves like that nifty toe drag to the middle above along with being one of the first players we saw in a Blue-note trying crazy moves like between-the-legs dekes, spin moves, and more, what really made Thomas stand out was his passing.
This is no dig to Pat Maroon or Tyler Bozak, but I can’t tell you how many times I watched the Thomas-Bozak-Maroon line playing during those seasons and it seemed as if Maroon/Bozak would fumble a ridiculously good pass from Thomas through multiple defenders.
In their defense, they probably didn’t think it was physically possible for Thomas to flick his wrist and put a perfect saucer pass on their tape when there were two defensemen between them.
But those passes did bring a question about to Blues fans’ minds: if Thomas can thread the needle across the ice with a flick of the wrist, what’s preventing him from netting 30+ goals a year along with the assists? We even asked a similar question ourselves a couple of years ago, ironically.
Although there did seem to be times when Thomas would hit the goalie right in the chest, the main issue preventing him from being a dependable goal scorer for the Blues was his unwillingness to shoot the puck.
The Blues have tempted their fans to throw their TV out the window over the past few years with how many times they’ll have a wide-open shot right in the slot but choose to try and do a nifty pass to get a “prettier” goal, and Thomas, unfortunately, was the poster boy of that trend. It just never made sense to me. If Thomas can thread the needle like he did here, that should mean he’s also skilled enough to pick a corner at will when shooting.
Well luckily for Blues fans after watching these first 10 games, it seems someone informed Thomas this off season he is indeed allowed to shoot the puck. Through 10 games Thomas is second on the team in shots with 21 (Jordan Kyrou has 39, which with his wrister I’m totally fine with him shooting that much), and his shooting % is 19%.
Besides just stats, there have been many plays so far this season that I’ve watched Thomas take an open shot where in past seasons he would’ve tried to force a nifty pass to try and make it an easier shot for his teammate. Example A, last night where he took the Montreal D on his own and instead of going for a fancy assist, he did a beautiful toe drag release into the top corner.
That isn’t just a goal right there, that is a goal scorers goal. He’s finally using his elite skill to do something other than toss perfect saucers across the ice to his teammates, and that spells bad news for opposing teams if this becomes a regularity.
Has his shooting paid off you may ask?
He currently leads the team in goals, and points (because although we love to see him score like that one above, I never want him to stop being a top passer in the league). I for one, am shocked that when our arguably most skilled player started shooting the puck more, good things happen!
I have been patiently waiting for #18 to start doing this ever since I saw him completing ridiculous passes at just 19 years old in the league. So look out NHL, the Rob Tom clap-bombs are coming your way.