Confident Paajarvi taking window of opportunity -

Confident Paajarvi taking window of opportunity

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(Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images) (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (HockeySTL) -

This season has been one of ups and downs for the Blues, and that’s no truer for anyone than Magnus Paajarvi. The 25-year-old left winger twice demoted has returned to the NHL roster a more effective player than the one he portrayed in any of his previous three seasons as a member of the Blues organization.

His first trip to the AHL this season came after just three games of the season, during which he earned one point, a goal against the Wild in the home opener. Paajarvi toiled away in the minors–where he has seven goals in 26 games for the season–until his recall to St. Louis on February 5th. Paajarvi scored in his first game back in the lineup against Ottawa on February 7th, and added just a couple other points and a plus-two rating until a second demotion came later in the month.

That second stretch with the Wolves was brief, during the Blues ‘bye week’ last month. Paajarvi is a depth guy at the NHL level; rather than enjoy a few days off from the rigors of the game like many of his NHL teammates, Paajarvi was sent to help fill the roster for the Wolves. No break for him.

The Swede apparently had no use for time off, anyway, as his return to St. Louis after the break has been followed by some of his most productive stretch of hockey in years. Paajarvi has compiled five goals and seven points over the last month, and has strung together a memorable couple of games. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Canucks, Paajarvi scored twice to follow up a goal in Tuesday’s win over Colorado. He credits an increased confidence to his recent run of success.

“Confidence and I’m attacking more,” Paajarvi said. “That’s my mindset, and it’s been working out very good since I’ve gotten up, for sure.”

It’s something he said grew with his time in the minors, where the coaching staff helped him to prepare for his NHL return by providing a positive environment to grow. Paajarvi is finding ways to stay aggressive on the ice no matter the situation, and it’s helped him find a groove.

“I try to do things and drive the net with or without the puck, and things happen,” Paajarvi said, explaining his mindset. “Got a couple goals here and there, and that’s always nice for the confidence as well, playing with great guys as well right now, so it’s nice.”

Paajarvi has been part of a youthful engine propelling the Blues forth in the wake of nagging injuries this season. Robby Fabbri was lost for the year, while Paul Stastny was recently shelved by an injury and is considered week-to-week. With spots in the lineup there for the taking, Paajarvi is making sure the Blues don’t skip a beat.

“You get a window you gotta try to take it,” Paajarvi said. “There’s not a whole lot of them and so far it’s been good for me since I’ve been up here.”

With his first goal Thursday, Paajarvi had achieved tallies in back-to-back games for the first time since March 3-5th, 2013. Paajarvi wasn’t content with that impressive stat, and added another goal in the third period–though it was threatened by a review.

“I knew it was close,” Paajarvi said of his second goal. “I didn’t wanna watch the replay but they said it was good, so it’s good.”

That score marked the second multi-goal game of Paajarvi’s NHL career, with the first one coming back on February 5th, 2011. Like his last streak of goals in consecutive games, Paajarvi was an Oiler for the previous feat. The Blues are getting the most they ever have out of him.

“He’s been flying,” said Kyle Brodziak, who also scored for the Blues in the win. “Ever since he got back up here, you can tell when he’s skating, he’s a step ahead of everyone else. It creates a lot. It backs their D off and he’s able to get first on the forecheck and create space for everyone out there. He’s been great for us.

Why is this Paajarvi showing up now? He's not the only one chalking it up to that magic word: confidence.

“He’s always been so fast and so good at getting on the forecheck, creating havoc like that," Brodziak said. "I think maybe just the confidence level. When he’s getting his scoring chances, he’s burying them. You saw that second goal, he absolutely buried that one. It was a great shot, a really hard shot, and he made a really nice one. I think maybe just the confidence level is getting higher.”

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