The numbers that Jaden Schwartz put on the score sheet Friday night one goal, one assist and six shots on goal is what many will take away from the rookies performance.
But after the Blues 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, Schwartzs teammates took away something else. Or at least captain David Backes hoped they did.
If 5-foot-10 Schwartzy is going into hard areas, theres no reason that the 6-2, 6-3 guys shouldnt be in there too, Backes said. For a 21-year-old kid that is just getting his feet wet in the league, its a lot of character shown and some great leadership too.
The Blues believe their goal-scoring will increase with more gumption, and they might have found it in an unlikely 190-pound package. Schwartz, who also showed toughness bouncing back from a boarding hit in the second period Friday, has many curious about what type of player hell be in the NHL. Time will tell, but hell get another opportunity on the teams top line at 2 p.m. Sunday when the Blues visit the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
I think hes stronger on the puck than people think, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. I think he surprises defending players sometimes, and hes awful smart and hes got a great stick. Hes a guy you trust. Theres times based on age, height, weight, mostly on age and experience, hes going to get overwhelmed at times. Youre just going to have to learn to work through that.
The Blues and Schwartz have stayed involved in that process this season. Hes bounced back and forth between a second-line and fourth- line winger and has been more impressive in an offensive role. Of his five points this season, hes had two two-point games one against Calgary Feb. 15 playing with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart and the other Friday playing alongside Backes and T.J. Oshie.
He doesnt fit as a fourth-line player, Hitchcock acknowledged. The way you want your fourth line to play doesnt fit. It was finding a spot for him.
With the injuries to Vladimir Tarasenko, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen, who was placed on the injured-reserve list Saturday, the Blues were pushed into giving Schwartz a look on the top line Friday.
Upon hearing the assignment, Schwartz admitted being a little bit nervous at the start, but he settled in quickly with Backes and Oshie.
Theyre great players, theyre easy to play with ... so smart and they see the ice so well, Schwartz said. …