Jaden Schwartz’s 2015-16 season was disappointing, but it wasn’t exactly his fault.
Schwartz was expected to be a key cog in a Blues offense that was expected to, and did, make a deep run in the post-season this past season, but the then-23-year-old had most of his year derailed by an unfortunate ankle injury just weeks into the campaign. Schwartz ended up being sidelined for 49 games and finished the year with just eight goals and 22 points in 33 games, a definite down-year for a projected 30-goal scorer.
He’s making up for lost time this year, though.
Injury once again hindered Schwartz at the start of the campaign as he missed four games with an elbow ailment, but since returning to the lineup he has been every bit the dynamic scorer the Blues were expecting him to become. No play better exemplifies that than Schwartz’s overtime winner against the Canadiens on Tuesday night, which came on a picture perfect backhander that beat Montreal’s Al Montoya clean:
Not to sleep on the great pass by Alex Steen, but that’s almost a video game backhand by Schwartz. The power, accuracy and timing of the shot gave Montoya next to no chance to stop the shot.
For Schwartz, the goal has put him right on the kind of goal-scoring pace the Blues have long expected him to reach. His pair of goals Tuesday — he scored midway through the third period on a net-front scramble to send the game to OT — puts him on pace for his first campaign with 30-plus goals and he’s set to have a near 60-point campaign.
More than just scoring, though, Schwartz is blossoming into the true top-line threat the Blues were expecting when they selected him 14th overall in the 2010 draft. After consistently skating in a top-six spot over the course of the past two seasons, Schwartz has averaged close to 20 minutes per game this season. Steen and Paul Stastny are the only Blues forwards who’ve seen the ice more.
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