I’ve long held a theory that the Blues, every season, have one player who is the linchpin of their offense. When that player goes down, the team struggles to continue consistent play. In the past, that player has been Jaden Schwartz - the Blues’ stretches when Schwartz was injured, most notably in 2018, led to line shuffling, needing to build chemistry on the fly, and hiccups both offensively and, since Schwartz was a defensive-minded forward, defensively.
It appears that the new Jaden Schwartz is Brayden Schenn. Schenn, who has missed the last nine games with injury, is returning to the lineup tonight. Without the center, the Blues went 3-5-1, and uneven stretch of games that saw them fall to the Arizona Coyotes and put up five unanswered goals on the Vegas Golden Knights.
With Schenn back, expect to see some consistency. Unfortunately for the Blues, James Neal - who has been a solid fourth-line guy with Klim Kostin and Tyler Bozak - is taking a maintenance day, but that shouldn’t set the team back.
Berube, on his part, is as excited about Schenn coming back as he is about the flexibility that he has in his roster.
“We moved some guys around because we had to with Schenn back,” Berube said. “It’s good to be healthy and have moving parts in your lineup. It doesn’t get stale that way. It’s just more balance with Schenner back, down the middle of the ice, we’re pretty strong in my opinion. We have other guys that are playing wing that can play center. That’s a good position to be deep in.”
Ville Husso, who has had an excellent start to his season (2-0, .50 GAA, .984 SV%), will start in net to give Jordan Binnington an extra day of rest before the Blues play divisional rival Chicago on Friday.
Surprisingly, Marco Scandella and Colton Parayko have been reunited as the top defensive pairing tonight.
Here’re tonight’s lines, from stlblues.com:
Barbashev - O’Reilly - Perron
Buchnevich - Thomas - Tarasenko
Saad - Schenn - Kyrou
Kostin - Bozak - Sundqvist
Scandella - Parayko
Krug - Faulk
Mikkola - Perunovich