Talking with fellow STLGT scribe master the Donut King this morning, I mentioned that no matter what is right or wrong, Jaden Schwartz will be expected to be John McClane in Die Hard on Friday night when the St. Louis Blues face off against the Florida Panthers. Ladies and gents, let's not really expect this to happen. Say it with me. Schwartz is not John McClane!
While seeing Jaden Schwartz take the ice in a wife beater, khaki's without skates or socks would be an extremely cool ode to the late Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber, it is going to take a few games for the kid to get his feet wet again. He has missed 49 games, basically half a season of ice time. The minute he hits the ice, fans will expect the kid to unleash hate on the other team, dazzling like a man possessed. I will be glad if he avoids crashing into nets(Brian Elliott is on the ice, so watch out).
Schwartz called the broken ankle the most painful injury he has ever had, and he couldn't even put weight on it for six weeks, according to Blues NHL.com reporter Chris Pinkert. He had four assists in seven games before he got hurt in practice, and will join the team in a time of need.
The Blues have a problem scoring and it has nothing to do with cruising Lindbergh and picking up ladies. Their point differential is a feeble +2, and they have been held to 2 goals or less in six of their last seven games. If scoring was a problem before the All Star Break, it has become a five alarm fire in the week after.
Can Schwartz help? Sure he can. The kid is talented and one of the most versatile players at full strength. Coming off back to back 20 goal seasons, Schwartz has the goods at 23 years old. He can score, play fine defense, go to the corners and battle and is a playmaker with wicked shot. Seeing him on a roster with Vladimir Tarasenko and a fully realized Robby Fabbri will be a treat for Blues fans and a "Holy Shit" warning for opponents. It will just take time. First, he will have to get out, take a hit and trust his ankle won't break in half. Second, he will have to adjust to the endurance of a full game. Third, Hitch will have to find him a home.
With Magnus Paajarvi on the fourth line, I would like to see Schwartz paired up eventually with Tarasenko and Paul Stastny, but would understand if they wanted to pair him with others to get his legs back. Combine him with the brawn of David Backes and the speed of Rabby Fabbri on line 2 or 3. Pair him with Patrik Berglund maybe. Eventually, Schwartz could become a top line player. For now, he will have to be one of the guys.
He will not be John McClane. He won't save the day at Nakatomi Plaza. Not yet. When you have recovered from your "every time Darren Panger mentions Ryan Reaves is from Winnipeg": drinking game, you may do a new one on Friday with Bernie Federko and Panger. The "Getting Schwartz back is like making a trade" sketch. I'd suggest a good meal beforehand.
Go Blues and be well people.