One week ago, Magnus Paajarvi recorded no points and no shots in the Chicago Wolves’ 3-2 overtime win over the Rockford IceHogs. Tonight, he plays in Montreal on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen.
Primarily, the Blues are dealing with injuries. Following Robby Fabbri’s season ending ACL injury, Paajarvi and Kenny Agostino were recalled. With Paul Stastny’s lower body injury in Toronto on Thursday, a spot opened up, and Paajarvi got the call.
He recorded his second goal and second game winning goal of the season on Tuesday in Ottawa, and chipped in the primary assist on Patrik Berglund’s goal in Toronto. Those two points give Paajarvi 3 in 5 games this season, and he’s earned at least some trust from his coach.
“I’ve seen some growth in his game,” said Blues head coach Mike Yeo. “I thought he had a really good camp when he was with us...He’s a guy who thinks the game well and he’s very responsible on the ice, but what I like right now is he’s showing some of that responsibility but also generating some offense while he’s doing it.”
For his part, Paajarvi feels comfortable in his new role. “The systems are the same,” Paajarvi said. “Everything is the same playing wise, so just control yourself.”
Stastny’s absence also creates a hole on the team’s top power play unit. At the morning skate, both Berglund and Jori Lehtera moved through that spot. Yeo indicated that game situations and fatigue would dictate which of the two would be seen on the ice at any given time.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, also a member of that unit, was happy to take time away from answering trade-related questions for thundering crowds of Canadian media to discuss what the team needs to do differently on the power play.
“We plug in a guy probably like Bergie or Jori Lethera. Jori brings that same playmaking ability that Stas does. Bergie will be a guy that a real net presence for us. We have to make sure that we adjust to that,” Shattenkirk said.
In discussing his lineup construction, Yeo emphasized a desire for consistency, which may be music to the ears of Blues fans who grew increasingly frustrated with Ken Hitchcock’s seemingly endless urge to tinker.
“We wanted to try to keep things as close to what we’ve had lately as possible,” said Yeo. “You look at Bergie’s line with [Dmitri Jaskin] moving in there, that was the line that we had in Philly. So it’s pretty much the same lineup that we had in Philly, is what you’re gonna see from lines 3 and 4. Trying to keep some continuity there.”
With a win tonight, the Blues would sweep their trip through Canada and win their fourth game in a row. This morning, the team finds themselves in third place in the Central Division, but only one point ahead of Nashville in the division, and only two points ahead of Calgary for the Wild Card.
King Magnus is aware that this would be a huge win for his team, and he’s focused on making positive contributions in his new, increased role.
“For me its not a big difference,” he said. “Obviously Tarasenko and Steen are stars and I’m gonna keep playing my game. I can only control myself. Hopefully, it works out.”
“It would be a lot of fun to win tonight.”