QUESTION: Do you think Alex Steen is back to full speed yet? What impact could he have on this series?
Since returning from his concussion, Alex Steen has seven points in 12 games, including three points in five playoff games. Those are good numbers for a player who missed 2 1/2 months, but I think we’ve yet to see the Alex Steen we saw before the concussion.
All concussed players follow the same path: fast out of the gate, hit a wall and then climb back. Some like Andy McDonald climb back faster than others. Steen has been good, but we’ve seen in the past how dynamic he can be, and I don’t think he’s reached that stage yet. That bodes well for the Blues, who will be looking for an edge in the second round, an edge that Steen can provide.
I don’t think Alex Steen will be back to full speed until next season. He missed half the schedule and returned to play seven games before the playoffs began, hardly enough time to get up to speed for playoff hockey. For that matter, I don’t think David Perron is back to 100 percent either.
That said, Steen is smart and resilient enough to be effective whether he is 100 percent or not. It almost seems like whatever line he plays on goes. Before he got hurt, he was playing on a line with David Backes and it was thriving. Since he came back, he’s played with Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald, who were the Blues’ top offensive players in the San Jose series.
Coincidence? Me thinks not.
Steen does a lot of things that go unnoticed. He was very hard on the puck against the Sharks, played a determined two-way game. I don’t know at what percent he is, but it’s a heckuva lot better than a lineup without Alex Steen.
Steen will play a major role both on the power play and at even strength. The Kings haven’t seen what he can do within Ken Hitchcock’s framework. He and McDonald give this team the speed, skill and offensive depth to create matchup issues for the Kings. Kings coach Darryl Sutter realizes this is a different team than the one his squad handled during the regular season.
ANDY STRICKLAND (TrueHockey.com, KFNS)
I think he’s absolutely up to speed. He led all Blues forwards in ice time in the opening series and was heavily involved in each game. He and Brent Burns had an interesting battle through the series and he continues to show great chemistry with Andy McDonald. Steen and McDonald are greatly responsible for the success Patrik Berglund had in the opening round.
The points should come for Steen, especially if the Blues get some even-strength production. He’s a quality player who can certainly have an impact on the LA series. His impact isn’t always judged by point production though. He kills penalties, can play the point on the PP, and wins board battles. He would like to have the puck more, especially in the offensive zone, but he’s a guy who can play through a physical series. He’ll have no choice in Round Two, likely playing a lot against Richards, Carter and what looks like Dustin Penner or Dwight King.