What's the matter with Chris Stewart?

Dilip Vishwanat

Nothing. Well maybe not nothing. But, since there seems to be a bandwagon of Stewart haters growing, I thought I would try to get out in front of what could potentially become another Jackman-style lynch mob and see if I can head it off.

Last season was a phenomenal season for Stewart.  He finished the season leading the Blues with 18 goals and 36 points.  His career high 18.6% shooting percentage put him in the top 25 of NHL players who had played at least 10 games last season.  But if you are expecting a repeat of last season, do not hold your breath.  That level of production just was not going to be sustainable.  Not to take anything away from Stewart (he does have the skill) but he was also quite lucky last season.

This season, even though Stewart hasn't scored as much as fans would like, he has been relatively consistent game to game with getting pucks on net.  That, combined with the fact that Hitchcock seems to play Stewart against weaker competition, will lead to Stewart scoring goals.  They just won't come as fast and furious as they did at the beginning of last season.

Even though Stewart hasn't been producing goals, he has solid numbers in other areas of his game.  His points per 60 minutes of ice time is roughly what it was 2 seasons ago.  His possession numbers are positive for both his individual possession stat (Corsi On is 7.7) and his possession stat in relation to the rest of the Blues (Corsi Relative is 4.3).  What does that mean?  It means that when Stewart is on the ice, the Blues are taking roughly 8 more shots than their opponents, and the Blues take roughly 4 more shots on goals than their opponents do when Stewart is on the ice compared to his teammates when he is off the ice.

Speaking of off the ice.  If there is one area of Stewart's play that should concern Blues fans it is the penalty minutes he is currently racking up.  Last season Stewart had only 4 major penalties in a 48 game season and no misconducts.  This season he already has 2 major penalties and 3 misconducts.  I love a good Chris Stewart fight as much as the next Game Time reader does, but every minute that Stewart is sitting in the penalty box is a minute he could be on the ice shooting pucks on net and scoring goals.  The penalty/60 +- stat is just subtracting the number of penalties a player takes (per 60 minutes of ice time)  from the number of penalties a player draws (per 60 minutes of ice time).  A positive number is good in this case because it means that the player is drawing more penalties than they are taking.

This still probably won't deflate the Stewart haters.  But at least you have some ammo to lob at the person next to you at the game (or at the bar, or online, or wherever) who starts rambling on about how much Stewart sucks this season.

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