Jaden Schwartz, the Blues’ rookie left winger, admits that passing the puck has been his first instinct throughout his career. If he wants to stay in the lineup, however, that must change.
Schwartz entered Thursday’s game against Detroit with only one shot on goal in his past six games and just three attempts in seven games.
“Play-making has always been a part of my game, so when the pass is there, I usually make it,” said Schwartz, who has averaged 10 minutes, 12 seconds of ice time per game. “But like (Blues coach Ken Hitchcock) said, I can shoot the puck a little more, and that’s something that I’ve been working on. I’ve been doing it in practice; hopefully it carries over to the game.”
Schwartz had been playing on a line with center Patrick Berglund. But on Thursday, the Blues moved right winger Vladimir Tarasenko into that group. Although Berglund and Tarasenko came into the night leading the club in goals with five apiece, Hitchcock didn’t want Schwartz deferring to his linemates.
“Because there’s so many things that he does effectively. ... He’s a great forechecker, he creates all kinds of opportunities for others,” Hitchcock said. “But when it’s his turn, he’s trying to make the next play rather than make the play that’s putting it on the net.”
SETTLING ON A LINEUP
In addition to Schwartz, forward Ryan Reaves returned to the ice Thursday.
Of the Blues’ three losses this season, Reaves has been a healthy scratch in two. His absence seems to have a dramatic effect on the Blues’ forecheck, which was flat-out missing without him in Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Nashville.
“It depends which Reaves (shows up),” Hitchcock said. “When he plays north-south, he’s a very difficult player to play against.”
But Hitchcock took some of the blame, saying, “It’s a little bit our fault too, because we’ve been screwing around trying to get people into the lineup and make them part of the team. The lineup (Thursday night) is the same lineup that we had the first couple of games, and we stayed with it and we played very well. Then we started moving around that fourth line to try to get people involved, and I’m not sure it helped. It kept people involved, but I’m not sure it helped long term.
“We’ve experimented enough, and we’ll just settle in. But ‘Revo’ has got to be consistent in his performance of playing north-south, and he does it and then gets away from it at times.”
Reaves is second on the Blues in hits with 18, trailing only David Backes (32).
“I’ve been fortunate that I can lead a little bit of the charge with the physical aspect and the forecheck when I get into the lineup,” Reaves said. “I’ve got to be that leader that builds energy for the team and builds energy when we’re having a couple of rough shifts.”
Defenseman Wade Redden played in his 1,000th NHL game Thursday night, becoming the 11th player in history to reach the milestone while wearing a Blues’ uniform. ... Goaltender Jaroslav Halak skated alone before the Blues’ practice Thursday, but did not face any shots. Hitchcock said the plan is for Halak to start seeing some shots “in the next couple of days.”