Scoring binge for Blues continues as all 4 lines find success
St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko takes a slap shot against the San Jose Sharks in the third period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on January 8, 2015. St. Louis beat San Jose 7-2. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI By BILL GREENBLATT
St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott makes a glove save in the third period against the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on January 8, 2015. St. Louis defeated San Jose 7-2. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI By BILL GREENBLATT
ST. LOUIS - Scoring 20 goals in their last three games and earning all three victories have helped pull the St. Louis Blues within five points of first place in the Central Division. The offensive onslaught can be attributed to all four lines finding success with the right personnel.
On Tuesday, the Blues beat down the San Jose Sharks 7-2 at Scottrade Center. All seven goals came from different players while head coach Ken Hitchcock has rolled out the same four lines - T.J. Oshie-David Backes-Alex Steen Vladimir Tarasenko-Jori Lehtera-Jaden Schwartz Dmirtij Jaskin-Paul Stastny-Patrik Berglund Ryan Reaves-Steve Ott-Max Lapierre.
And Hitchcock said he has seen his team play unselfish hockey.
"It's what's really evident right now," he said, "When you're unselfish you come off the ice at the right time. You change at the right time. You leave your teammate in a good spot. We're playing the right way. It's having a big impact on keeping the group together."
Part of keeping the group together was finding the right pieces and injuries have put a delay into the offensive structure for the team. Most recently, the injury to Schwartz that kept him out of action for most of December limited Hitchcock's line-up options. But in the three games since Schwartz's return, he has been inserted back onto the STL line and the Blues have three wins.
"He's a guy that can really set a tempo," Hitchcock said when describing Schwartz's value to the line-up, "First, as his line-mate, you have no choice to follow [his] lead. Watching from the bench is the same way. He's a player you don't coach, you manage."
"He definitely brings a spark to our team," Oshie said, echoing his coach's assessment of Schwartz, "I don't know how tall he is, but he plays like he's 6'4"."
Another cog in the system has been the pairing of Jaskin with Stastny. Jaskin was recalled from Chicago when Schwartz went out and has found a home on the right side of Stastny. The right wing side of Stastny's line has been a merry-go-round, but now with Jaskin the pair have scored five collective goals.
"We kind of went through a little slide [earlier] and it happens," Stastny said, "I think early on we won games where one line took over for us, but that's what happens in an 82-game season. We've had all four lines scoring and clicking and our power-play's been really good. And that's generated some confidence for the whole team."
Having played their 41st game Tuesday, the Blues now have to survive any injury scares in their push to the playoffs.