During a time when the Avalanche needed Chris Stewart to step up, the second-year forward answered the call.
Over the past two weeks, Stewart has shown exactly why the Avalanche selected him in the first round (18th overall) of the 2006 Entry Draft. With a unique combination of size and skill, it was only a matter of time before the 6-foot-2, 228-pound power forward began to live up to his vast potential.
Stewart has averaged well over a point-per-game during his last nine contests, totaling five goals and eight assists. The stretch has featured a pair of three-point performances, including his first career multi-goal game on Monday night during Colorado’s 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.
He was simply all over the ice on Monday, using his size and speed to force Barrett Jackman into a hooking penalty late in the first period. On the ensuing power play, Stewart parked himself in front of the St. Louis net and tipped a Kyle Quincey shot past Chris Mason for his fifth goal of the season.
After recording an assist on a nice give-and-go play with Wojtek Wolski that eventually ended in a Paul Stastny
goal, Stewart notched his second tally of the game by again using his large frame in front of the net. This time, he deflected a John-Michael Liles point shot into the St. Louis goal.
Stationing himself just outside the crease isn’t something Stewart is particularly accustomed to, but he seemed to relish his new role on Monday.
“When you watch great players like (Tomas) Holmstrom and Ryan Smyth, that’s their bread and butter right there,” said Stewart. “Joe (Sacco) gave me the responsibility there to go in front of the net and told me not to move. I got a good tip and I think one went off my foot so it was definitely a great night personally.”
Stewart’s increased production comes at an important time for the Avalanche, which recently lost power forward David Jones
for four-to-six months with a knee injury. Jones was in the midst of a breakout year with 10 goals in 23 games when he suffered the injury on Nov. 28 versus Minnesota. In Jones’ absence, Stewart has stepped in to fill the void on the Avalanche’s roster.
The opportunity to play on one of the Avalanche’s top two lines has aided his recent hot streak, but Stewart knows a lot of it comes from his own hard work as well.
“Just working on consistency. Showing up every night and working hard. I find the simpler I try to keep my game the better things work out, so I’m just trying to do that.”
At the beginning of his hot stretch Stewart was skating on rookie Matt Duchene
’s wing, but Monday night he was teamed up with Stastny and Wolski. Regardless of who his linemates are, Stewart believes he and his teammates have found the recipe for success.
“We’re keeping it simple, putting pucks on the net and winning one-on-one battles and that’s leading to puck possession,” said Stewart. “But when you’re playing with players like Stastny and Wolski, you just want to give them the puck and get open.”