Much was made of the returns of Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, and rightfully so. Both players have been getting back into the swing of things. Tarasenko has two goals and five assists since his return, and Schwartz has two goals and two assists in his last five games.
It hasn’t been enough for the Blues’ stuttering offense, though. The team’s offense looks lost, almost as badly as they did during the playoff bubble. A commonality between the Blues struggles then and their struggles now was a lack of fourth line stability. The Blues’ fourth line was the Blues’ backbone through the Stanley Cup playoffs. Whenever they’re missing parts of that line, the team stumbles as things get shuffled.
They’re missing Oskar Sundqvist, and the Blues are missing Ivan Barbashev. Even when those two have moved up the lineup, they’ve still supplied stability to the team. Without them, there hasn’t been that stability - even though many of the plug-ins have played well. Sundqvist is out for the rest of the season and the playoffs, but Ivan Barbashev may be back for Friday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Barbashev has two goals and four assists in 17 games this season. Berube seems confident in his his return:
“I think he’s making real good strides and we’ll evaluate him tomorrow and I’ve talked to him about possibly Friday. He looks pretty good but he’s got to feel like he’s ready to go. So we’ll wait till tomorrow.”
Parayko’s return timetable is still nebulous. His getting back into the lineup would go a ways to helping add stability on the blueline, but you can’t underestimate the importance of Barbashev’s return.