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Blues scoring depth proving extra punch

Without a top weapon, the Blues have found ways to keep their scoring touch alive.

Chicago Blackhawks v St Louis Blues Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Even without a top weapon for most of the season, the Blues haven’t had a problem putting the puck in the net. They’ve scored the tenth most goals in the league. They average 3.20 goals per game. That comes averaging in the bottom-10 for shots per game. There is also another stat that they are among the top of the league in.

The Blues have 10 players who have scored at least 10 goals this season. That is tied for first with the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. And there are some surprising names on that list.

We’ll start with some of the unsurprising names, however.

David Perron

Perron has led the team in scoring for quite some time now. His pace has slowed down a bit as he has just one goal in his last 12 games, though. His 24 goals are four away from his career high of 28 he set with the Edmonton Oilers back in 2013-14.

Perron has one of the highest goals-for percentages among teammates that have played most of the season. This takes away players such as Jake Walman, Klim Kostin and Niko Mikkola who have played 10 games combined. Among the rest of his teammates, Perron’s 56.76 GF% is eighth. His expected goals percentage is a little bit lower. Perron’s 50 xGF% is outside the top ten, sitting 14th among players who have regularly played this season.

Micah Blake McCurdy / HockeyViz

Using Micah’s excellent work over at Hockey Viz, the Blues actually have a slightly better shot rate when Perron is off the ice. Now the numbers are -4% to -2% so it’s not as if the team is getting a lot more shots through when Perron isn’t on the ice.

Brayden Schenn

Schenn is next on the list, two goals behind Perron for the team lead. It’s possible he could break his career high as well. He scored 28 goals in his first season in St. Louis and sits at 22 right now. Schenn has scored in back to back games after an eight game scoreless drought.

His advanced numbers are a bit below Perron’s. Among those same regular players, Schenn has a 54.69 GF% and a 48.05 xGF%.

Micah Blake McCurdy / HockeyViz

His offensive impact is also below Perron’s. When on the ice, Schenn’s impact sits at -10%. The offense is up to average when he is not on the ice. So there is a bigger gap between Schenn being on and off the ice than there was for Perron.

Jaden Schwartz

Despite being known as a somewhat streaky scorer, Schwartz is third on the team with his 20 goals. It’s his fourth season reaching the 20-goal mark.

Schwartz’s more advanced numbers are below both Perron and Schenn. He has a 53.33 GF%, though his 50.94 xGF% is ahead of the two.

Micah Blake McCurdy / HockeyViz

The offensive impact numbers are similar to those of Perron and Schenn. With Schwartz on the ice, the offense is at -5%. With him off the ice, the impact is at -2%.

None of these numbers are to show that the offense is immensely better with any of those players off the ice. The fact that those three lead the team in goals is what matters most here.

But there are some other players with over 10 goals that deserve some of the credit as well. And a few of them are some of the younger players on the team, while another is someone who deserves a lot more credit around the league.

Zach Sanford

Sanford is fourth on the team in goals and has easily surpassed his career high in goals. In 60 games last season, Sanford has eight goals. In 11 less games this season, he already has 15 goals. And they’ve been coming in bunches lately.

Sanford is ahead of Perron with a 60.66 GF%. He is just below Perron with a 49.73 xGF%. So Sanford is performing on almost the same level as the Blues leading scorer.

Micah Blake McCurdy / HockeyViz

The biggest place this shows is when we look at his offensive impact. He is the first player among this group that has a positive number. The team is over 10% worse at getting unblocked shots in on net when Sanford isn’t on the ice.

Again, this isn’t to say anything bad about the players above. This goes to show the strides that Sanford has taken this season. And the confidence he’s been playing with recently.

Robert Thomas

Thomas is another young player that has shown scoring promise this season. When he is able to use his speed and creativity, Thomas has been able to do some unbelievable things on the ice. He recently reached the 10 goal mark after he scored in the Blues latest win.

Thomas has the highest percentages among this group thus far. His 62.9 GF% is only below Robert Bortuzzo and Marco Scandella. Despite the fact that Scandella has only played a few games for the Blues, he’s still appeared in 54 total games this season. Thomas’ 51.4 xGF% is also above the players mentioned.

Micah Blake McCurdy / HockeyViz

His offensive impact sits right in the middle, though when off the ice the shot rates do dip into the negatives a bit.

Alex Pietrangelo

All of the players we’ve looked at so far have been forwards, which isn’t surprising when looking at goal scorers. Pietrangelo, though, is fifth on the team with 13 goals. He’s quietly two away from tying his career high of 15 from two seasons ago.

As a defensemen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his GF% and xGF% lower than the forwards above. That’s not quite where he sits, though. He is just above Schwartz with a 54.55 GF%. Pietrangelo is actually above all of the forwards mentioned with his 53.38 xGF%.

Micah Blake McCurdy / HockeyViz

Pietrangelo’s impact on the offense is shown even more by the unblocked shot rates shown above. That +11% is the highest number in this group. The offense is almost 10% worse at getting shots through when Pietrangelo isn’t on the ice. So his impact that way is similar to Sanford’s.

Ryan O’Reilly (12), Tyler Bozak (12), Oskar Sundqvist (12) and Ivan Barbashev (10) make up the rest of the players that have scored at least 10 goals this season. It’s possible the Blues could add some more to that list as four players currently sit at seven goals.

That scoring depth will come in handy as the regular season winds down and we head into the playoffs. If the Blues are able to keep this up come playoff time, they could be playing some very important hockey once again.