(HockeyStL) -- Blues fans and players alike are starting to get excited for their team as they currently hold the top spot in the entire NHL with 97 points. As of late the Blues have become the talk of the NHL as they have continually found ways to win games, and even though hockey is a team game, it is safe to say one player has made a huge impact on the Blues squad.
Veteran forward Andy McDonald has been the best Blues’ player since his return to the lineup on February 12. McDonald has been on a tear since then scoring eight goals and registering 14 points.
Andy McDonald was drafted in the eleventh round of the 1993 draft (272 overall). The Blues acquired McDonald on December 14 2007 in exchange for Doug Weight and Michal Birner and a seventh round draft pick. Since coming over to the Blues, McDonald has made an irreplaceable impact.
McDonald provides speed, and skill to a team that relies heavily on playmaking. The Blues do not have a star goal scorer like most teams do, so every player must step up and they must play as a team, which is why when Andy McDonald was concussed on October 13, fans were worried.
This was Andy McDonald’s second concussion in consecutive seasons, and as McDonald even admitted, he thought this was the end to his career. It was not, however, and as he found his way back into the lineup, he left no room to doubt that he is back to his old self.
The Blues improved dramatically upon McDonald’s return, and much of that improvement coincides with McDonald’s unique skill set.
Andy McDonald has made a dramatic impact on the Blues power play and penalty kill, but as I already mentioned, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. In his career McDonald has 51 power play goals along with 122 assists on the power play. His ability to gain entrance to the zone using his speed is often overlooked and underestimated by opponents. He swiftly gains the opponent’s zone on the power play and sets up shop along the boards feeding the puck to the point and will often times drive to the net for rebounds or a backdoor feed. This may sound like something any player does on the power play, but very few as well as McDonald. This has helped to spark the Blues power play which has gone 15 for 51 (29.4 %) since McDonald’s return.
As for the penalty kill, it has been remarkable. The Blues have killed off 47 consecutive penalties since February 14 and have moved up to seventh place in the league with a penalty killed success rate of 84.6 %. McDonald has played a role on the penalty kill as he has often killed off valuable time by skating around in the opponents end harassing puck carriers and by maintaining control of the puck as the clock runs down.
All in all, McDonald has made his return look like something you can only read about, but it’s a reality and he is playing a huge role on a club that is the hottest in the NHL.
The Blues will look for McDonald to keep providing offense and stability to their lineup as they make a run at the Stanley Cup, and as every day comes and goes it’s beginning to look like this is perhaps the year that the Blues are the team to beat.
Blues News: The Blues have signed 2010 first round draft pick (14th overall) Jaden Schwartz to a three year entry level contract. Schwartz will join the Blues in Chicago and will remain in the NHL for the remainder of the season. Story will be posted on KMOV.com Tuesday.