SUNRISE, FL - When Doug Armstrong acquired Brayden Schenn at the 2017 NHL Draft in a trade that sent Jori Lehtera, a first-round pick and a 2018 conditional pick to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Blues' general manager said he felt he was getting a player in the prime of his career and with great character.
"(Those) were the things that attracted us to him," Armstrong said. "One thing that always comes back is he's a team-first guy. We lost a lot of character in another trade (at the draft), and I'm not sure we would have done that one without knowing Schenn was coming back."
Schenn has certainly delivered in the early going.
He's rewarded the Blues with the best start of his career, scoring five points (two goals, three assists) through his first four games of the season. His power-play goal on Tuesday night against the Rangers stood as the game-winning goal, and he's been effective and solid all around.
"He's been better than advertised for me, personally," said Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo. "First off, he's a great pro, a great fit inside our locker room and with our group, and I've really liked him at center. If there's been any concern or uncertainty about him and his ability to play at center, it's erased from my mind now… first off, he distributes the puck really well. He's made a lot of really key plays in setting up goals, his defensive game has been real solid, he's a big body who can really battle and be hard and separate guys down low.
"He's been a great fit."
Video: Schenn expects tough test in Florida
Last season, Schenn potted seven game-winning goals, which ranked 10th in the League. He is also coming off back-to-back 25-goal seasons, including last year, when he shared the League lead with 17 power-play goals.
He's also been a big reason why, that despite injuries to several key players, the Blues have started the season with a perfect 4-0-0 record.
The Blues will look to start 5-0-0 for the first time in franchise history tonight when they meet the Florida Panthers at 6:30 p.m. CT at BB&T Center (FSMW, FSGO, KMOX).
"Obviously, it's a good start for the team," Schenn said. "We have a chance to go 5-0 tonight and we'll look towards that. It will be a tough test in the Panthers."
Including tonight, the Blues will have played five games in nine days to start the regular season. Meanwhile, the Panthers are playing just their third game of the season and have been off since Saturday.
Florida is 1-1 after splitting a home-and-home with the Tampa Bay Lightning to start the season. Forward Evgenii Dadonov leads the club with three points in the early going (one goal, two assists), while Roberto Luongo and James Reimer have split the duties in goal for the Panthers.
One player to watch is Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers' 6-foot-3, 213-pound center.
Video: Chase and Pang preview the Oct. 12 game at Florida
"This is going to be a hard game," Yeo said. "Watching the video on them, they really come at you. You look at a guy like Barkov and what he can do. I think a lot of people around St. Louis might not know a whole lot about him, but this kid, he's a stud. He has the ability to control the game, and they obviously have a lot more than that. They're playing well, they're playing aggressive. They've got strength up front and on the back end.
"Getting that fifth win is going to be tough, but it's something we all want. I think we're going to see a good game tonight."
Last season, the Blues were 1-1 against Florida, with the win coming on the road. In fact, the Blues have won five straight games at BB&T Center - their last loss there was on March 7, 2009.
The Blues' PK unit has killed 24 of 24 Panthers power-play opportunities over the last nine meetings between the clubs.
Carl Gunnarsson has two goals and is already halfway to tying his career high of four goals (2010-11 and 2011-12).
Carter Hutton made his season debut on Tuesday against the New York Rangers and stopped 32 of 33 shots. In his last 11 regular season road starts, Hutton has a 9-2-0 record with a .955 save-percentage and a 1.30 goals-against average to go along with four shutouts.
Jaden Schwartz has nine points (four goals, five assists) in seven career games against the Panthers.
Alex Pietrangelo shares the League lead among defensemen with six points (two goals, four assists).
The Blues haven't trailed in the regular season since the season-opener on Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh. They erased that deficit in one minute and 54 seconds.