ST. LOUIS — Jaden Schwartz finally appears to be living up to his offensive potential.
The St. Louis Blues forward has six goals, seven assists and a plus-8 rating in nine games. His 13 points rank third in the NHL.
Schwartz and the Blues (6-2-1) will look to continue the strong start to their season Wednesday night as they host the Calgary Flames (5-4-0).
“He’s playing for me at the level — or maybe a little bit above — of what he played in the playoffs last year,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “So I’m not surprised. This is a guy who is hitting his prime. In the last probably year or so, he is even starting to scratch the surface to realize how good he can be.”
Schwartz, in his seventh full season, has the tools to be one of the NHL’s best all-around forwards, but injuries have impeded his progress.
In October 2014, Schwartz broke an ankle in practice and missed 49 games. Last season, he injured an elbow in the preseason and then struggled upon his return.
“I just try to approach each game one game at a time no matter how the last game went,” Schwartz told the Post-Dispatch. “That’s something I’ve tried to work on as I’m getting older, just flip the page after every game and make sure I’m ready for the start of each game.”
Jaden Schwartz is off to one of his hottest starts. Is the @StLouisBlues forward about to have a career year? #AllTogetherNowSTL pic.twitter.com/cA7DHg6fV8
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) October 23, 2017
Schwartz found his groove in the playoffs, scoring four goals and adding five assists while earning a plus-4 rating in 11 games.
He has continued that play this season, serving as the Blues’ main catalyst. Schwartz has at least one point in eight of the nine games this season, including a hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 18.
“When he’s going, he brings everybody else into it,” Blues goaltender Jake Allen said. “He’s really the guy who gets guys going. He gets guys the puck. He works his best below the goal line. He doesn’t get enough credit. Vladdy (Tarasenko) gets the goals. Schwartz works in the corner, and Vladdy does his thing. He has really come into a league of his own.”
On Sunday, the Blues assigned forward Ivan Barbashev to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves and forward Sammy Blais to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. On Monday, the Blues recalled forward Beau Bennett from the Wolves.
The Flames will be playing the second of back-to-back games and are riding the momentum of a come-from-behind, 3-2 shootout win in Nashville on Tuesday night.
Calgary erased a 2-0 deficit and ended a two-game skid while improving to 4-1-0 on the road.
St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk, whose father, Keith, played for the Blues for nine seasons, scored in regulation for the Flames, then added the game-winner in the shootout.
“He thrives in the moment,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “Loves it. He’s competitive. I’ve said that a lot. He likes this kind of atmosphere. The bigger the game, it seems to me, the more he stands up in it. And I thought a lot of guys did that tonight, but tonight he got the important ones for us.”
Flames center Mark Jankowski saw his first action against the Predators after being called up from Stockton of the AHL to fill in for injured forward Jaromir Jagr (lower body). He played on a line with wingers Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar.
“It felt pretty good out there,” Jankowski said. “I got a couple shifts to get my legs under me. I felt like our line gained some chemistry as the game went on and got some good O-zone shifts and a couple chances.”