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Blues counting on Schwartz as they face visiting Leafs

2013-12-12T12:41:00Z 2013-12-12T15:56:25Z Blues counting on Schwartz as they face visiting LeafsBy Dan O'Neill doneill@post-dispatch.com stltoday.com
December 12, 2013 12:41 pm  • 

The Blues face the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, fresh off an encouraging 2-1 victory at Winnipeg on Tuesday. They had a lot of good players at Winnipeg and they hope the same number against the Leafs tonight.

It's getting to the point they need not wonder about at least one of them – Jaden Schwartz. The second-year forward was arguably the team's best player in Winnipeg and has become one of the standard-bearers each night.

Against the Jets, Schwartz had three shots, one block, one hit and one takeaway. He also was a key penalty-kill forward, playing two minutes 13 seconds of shorthanded time.

“You just come to expect it now,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I think if it was anything less we'd be disappointed. He's really playing at a high level right now. It's good to see.”

Schwartz has 19 points and is a plus-11. He is tied with T. J. Oshie for second among Blues forwards in plus-minus; Alexander Steen leads at plus-12.

***

Despite firing 38 shots at rookie goaltender Martin Jones, the Leafs lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 last night in Toronto. The Leafs have won just two regulation games in their last 18 starts. They're record is 6-9-3 in that run.

“It's like pushing that snowball,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said afterward. “It seems every time you lose, it gets bigger.”

Hitchcock sees anything but a struggling opponent.

“They played exactly the way they had to play to beat LA and couldn't beat the goalie,” Hitchcock said. “If that's the game they bring, that's a heckuva game. That's going to be a really good match for us. I think it will be heckuva hockey game. Both teams like to play the same way.”

***

Brian Elliott is back in goal tonight, his second consecutive start and eighth start overall. Elliott has a 2.04 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.

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