(HockeySTL)-- Alexander Steen has a five-game point streak, owns the highest point and goal total on the team, and is having the greatest single season of his career. Still, the forward remains critical of his play.
Steen returned to the Blues’ lineup six games ago after missing the previous 11 with a concussion. Since his return, Steen is pointless in just one game, which was his first game back against the Anaheim Ducks. Since then, Steen has seven points (three goals, four assists) in five games. Most National Hockey League players would be content with that level of play, but Steen isn’t most players.
“To be honest, I’m expecting more of myself,” Steen said following Tuesday night’s game. Steen tallied one of the Blues’ three goals on Tuesday against the Devils. “There are a few notches left to get to where I was. I just feel like there is more to my game than what I am doing right now.”
Prior to his concussion, Steen had 24 goals in 35 games, and for the better part of the year was competing with the NHL’s elite players. Steen’s injury took its toll on the forward, slowing down his game a bit. Now Steen is working towards returning to his old self.
“I’m trying to do what I can to stay (in the groove), but it’s not my first time with an injury either,” said Steen. “You learn from experiences previously and go about your business trying to do your best.”
“You kind of just go by how you feel. I’m starting to feel better and better.”
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock believes it’s all about finding a healthy balance between risk and reward for the Blues’ leading scorer. The biggest flaw the coach is noticing in Steen’s game is his trying to do too much to create, instead of just letting the play happen.
“There’s some times right now where he’s trying stuff because he wants to create and I think the balance has to be found for that line to be really effective,” said Hitchcock.
Steen has returned to playing top-line minutes, mostly with David Backes and Jaden Schwartz. His ice time hovers around 20 minutes each game, which is back to where it was before the injury. Steen has also been a plus-player in four of the six games he’s played in since returning. To the casual eye, Steen is back to his normal, high-compete self. But because Steen was playing at such a high level before his concussion, it will take him longer to fully rekindle his game.
“He is a very dynamic player that, for him to get to the elite level where he was before, I think he just has to learn to get back to the right balance between reward and risk,” said Hitchcock.”
Steen has seemingly been the Blues’ leader in every category imaginable at one point or another in the season. Aside from currently leading the Blues in goals and points, Steen also leads the club in game-winning goals. Steen’s goal in the first period of Tuesday’s game was the game-winner, bringing his yearly total to seven, which is not only a team-best, but also good for second in the entire NHL. Hitchcock doesn’t question Steen’s ability to lead on the ice during the important times of the game, but he does understand that the balance isn’t completely back for his star player.
“He always finds it when the game is on the line,” said Hitchcock. “He had an unbelievable balance of reward and risk going before he got hurt. He knows the right balance, he will find it.”