Five for 20

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Robby Fabbri will be motivated to break out in 2017-18 as a top offensive threat.

Defense and goaltending may win championships, but scoring is sexy. For the past few seasons, the Blues haven’t been known as one the league’s most productive offenses. Last season, there were only two players that cracked the 20-goal plateau – Vladimir Tarasenko with 39 (duh), and Patrik Berglund with 23 (whuuuuutt).

The Blues easily could have had five or more. Paul Stastny was well on pace to reach 20+, but his season was interrupted by injury. He ended playing 66 games, and scored 18 goals. Jaden Schwartz was just 1 goal shy of 20, with 78 games played. And now ex-Blue David Perron scored 18 goals.

Injuries are the great unknown of any sports  season, but barring anything serious, here are my Top 5 candidates to reach at least 20 goals for the 2017-18 season.

  1. Vladimir Tarasenko – This one’s a no-brainer. Tarasenko is truly an elite forward now. He has 116 goals over the past three seasons, for an average of just under 39.
  2.  Jaden Schwartz – He has two 20+ seasons in his young career, and he’s improving as an all-around player. He went through a 14-game goal-less stretch last year, which hurt his goal totals. Jaden is expected to rebound, as he has a full year between him and his injury-shortened 2015-16 season.
  3. Robby Fabbri –  There is a lot riding on Robby’s year. Blues management and coaching are fully expecting him to A) be heathy; and B) put up numbers as a 2nd-line forward. He will have more opportunity for ice time, considering the loss of David Perron in the Vegas expansion draft. He’s definitely penciled in to the Top 6 forwards.
  4. Brayden Schenn – I’m really looking forward to watching Schenn play. I was so thrilled on draft night when I read the news of his acquisition from the Flyers. And for Jori Lehtera – addition by subtraction! Seventeen of Schenn’s 25 goals last year came on the power play, so he will no doubt beef up the punch of special teams. Whether he plays at center or wing, he’ll bring a skill upgrade to the top 2 lines.
  5. Paul Stastny – I think a majority of fans would consider Stastny to be a partial bust as a free agent signing. His numbers here have fallen well short of what he put up in Colorado. But last year was his most productive, even with injuries. He was on pace for cracking 20, and now playing in a contract year, he’ll be motivated to earn his next contract.

I think we’ll see an offensive improvement in 2017-18. I can’t wait for hockey to start again, and to see what kind of numbers these 5 will put up. But what do you think? Any season always brings its own surprises.

Thanks for reading.

So…..Paul Stastny in Year 3

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Paul Stastny is quietly having a pretty good season.

Let me explain. No, he’s not himself from 4 or 5 years ago, when he was putting up Gs & As like a boss with the Avalanche. No, he’s not even himself from Yr 1 with the Blues, when he notched 46 points in 74 games, including 30 assists. But he’s scoring at a similar pace to Year 1, at about 0.62 points-per-game.

His assists are down this year (he’s at 20). So he’s not creating plays as much. But part of that we can attribute to his many different line mates this year. He’s had just about every Blues winger on his flanks, including non-producing, almost-busts Dmitrij Jaskin and Nail Yakupov. And the team has gone through a couple of prolonged scoring slumps, from the most recent of which they just emerged with last night’s win over Colorado. In that slump, the team scored just 6 goals 5 games.

What’s encouraging, however, is his goal total. He has 17, and that’s already more than the 16 he put in in his first season with the team. He’s on pace to end up at 22 goals. And the Blues need every one of those if they want to make any kind of postseason run. And Stastny’s shooting percentage is the highest it’s been with the team, at 17.3%.

His point production has been fairly consistent this year. There have been two four-game stretches during which he went point-less. But other than that, the production’s been there. And that’s despite a couple of brief stays on injured reserve.

I was thrilled when the Blues landed him in the summer of 2014. They needed him badly, and they beat out multiple teams to win his services. I love it when big-ticket free agents sign with the Blues, and while Paul Stastny hasn’t been a No. 1 center for the team, he’s still been a solid player earning his keep. And seems like a really good guy, to boot. It was really cool seeing him score and celebrate with his family at the glass in Colorado.

Thanks for reading.