Blues' red-hot top line leads way against visiting Predators
ST. LOUIS — The early-season success of the St. Louis Blues can be attributed to many factors, but the decision to put Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz on the same line is tops on that list.
The line, which was put together in late October, has quickly developed into one of the best in the NHL.
The Nashville Predators hope to at least slow down that line when they visit the Blues on Friday night.
All three players rank among the top offensive players in the league. Since they first took the ice together as a line on Oct. 25, they have combined for 18 goals and 54 points in 13 games.
Nobody has been hotter than Schenn, working as the center between the two wings. He has scored seven goals and added 12 assists in a career-high eight-game point streak. Schenn and Tarasenko both had two goals and two assists in an 8-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, while Schwartz had a goal and three assists.
According to ESPN, Schenn is the first player in the NHL to accumulate 19 points in an eight-game stretch in one season since Sidney Crosby had 20 in that span in 2013. It’s the most by a Blues player in eight games since Pavol Demitra in 2000.
“We’re working for one another, we kind of know where each other is right now and playing a give-and-go type of game and able to create opportunities from it,” Schenn said.
Schenn and Schwartz both said it is premature for talk that is beginning to build about the trio perhaps being the best forward line in the league.
“We’re only 22 games in,” Schenn said. “We’ve got 82 and the playoffs to try to prove that. You can’t be satisfied because you’ve had a good start to the year. You’ve got to keep building as a line and continue to improve.
“You want to come to the rink each day and get better and improve; don’t sit back because you’re having success right now. You want to keep pushing and keep your foot on the gas.”
Added Schwartz: “We’re having a lot of fun, but I think we are doing a good job of hitting the reset button every game and getting ready. You’ve got to respect every team in this league; they’re all good.”
The game against the Predators is the first for the Blues against a Central Division opponent since Oct. 19. It will be their first of the season against the Predators, who knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
The Predators have been hot as well, winning eight of their last nine games, including a 3-2 shootout win at home over Montreal on Wednesday night. Their 8-2-0 record in November is the best in the league this month.
“We haven’t played our best hockey yet,” defenseman P.K. Subban told NHL.com. “That’s the exciting thing about our team. We still have guys who are coming back into the fold who have been out for a while and trying to get their feet under them. But our leadership group has done a really good job of setting the tone and making sure that we do all the right things to be competitive every night.”
Blues coach Mike Yeo knows what to expect Friday night.
“We’ve got a bulls-eye right now and teams are chasing us,” Yeo said. “We’re not getting team’s B games. We know we are going to face their best. … It’s going to be intense, fast hockey and fun to watch.”