ST. LOUIS - When Jaden Schwartz goes, so go the St. Louis Blues.
And right now, Schwartz is going.
He has four goals over his last four games and is averaging a point per game over his last six contests (five goals, one assist). Five of those points came at even strength.
"His responsibility in his own end of the ice is impressive by itself, and the way he's contributing offensively is a big factor," said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. "He plays big minutes, he plays in important situations and when he's got the confidence of shooting the puck the way he is, he's just a big threat up front."
When Schwartz scores, the Blues are 4-1-0 this season. Over the course of his career, the Blues are 51-17-1 when Schwartz lights the lamp.
With several injuries over the last few seasons - including a severe ankle injury sustained in practice last season that saw him miss 49 games - one could argue it's taken some time for Schwartz to get back to full strength or even establish a rhythm.
But that's certainly not the case anymore.
"It's hard to be mentally engaged when you're worried about yourself physically, which is most of last year after he got hurt," Hitchcock said. "He had to work hard just to protect himself on the ice because he didn't have the quickness and agility that he does now. (Right now) he's just free and playing, and he's playing awful well right now, which is a great sign for us."
Thanks to his recent offensive surge, Schwartz now shares the team lead in goals (6) with Vladimir Tarasenko.
What a difference a few days can make.
Last week, the Blues suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Predators and then had an even tougher loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but things have rebounded this week as the club has started to find its identity.
Although Hitchcock liked the way the Blues played against Nashville in last Thursday's 3-1 loss, Pietrangelo said he thinks Predators will be seeing a different Blues club tonight.
"We've really taken things into our own hands here, we knew we had to play better and get back to our game," Pietrangelo said. "These last two games have been a real good example of that and tonight's going to be another good test. We need to make sure we take advantage of this homestand before we go on the road again."
After losing to Toronto to begin their three-game road trip, the Predators reeled off a 5-1 victory over Ottawa on Thursday night. James Neal has scored in six consecutive games, helping the Predators rise to a 7-6-3 record.
- David Perron (one goal, four assists) and Robby Fabbri (three goals, one assist) each have points in three consecutive games.
- Jake Allen moved ahead of Manny Legace for 10th on the Blues' all-time goalie wins list with his 64th win Thursday vs. San Jose.
- The Blues have won four in a row against the Predators at home and are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games against Nashville.
- Tonight's game is the 'Stache Bash game. Fans are encouraged to proudly show their moustache or even wear a fake one to generate conversation about men's health. Limited edition autographed 'Stache Bash pucks will be available for sale outside Section 114, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.
- Tonight's anthem will be performed by Chris Hobbs, the lead guitarist for local rock band Cavo.
- Peabody Opera House will host The Musial Awards tonight, and a holiday fireworks show from 6:15 to 7 p.m. will close some streets near Union Station. Please plan for extra traffic and arrive early for tonight's game.