Monday, April 16, 2018

Blues center Brayden Schenn

ST. LOUIS -- When the Blues traded for Brayden Schenn, acquiring the center from the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2017 NHL Draft for Jori Lehtera and a pair of first-round picks, it was with hope of adding an impact player entering his prime.

At 26, Schenn is entering the prime years of his NHL career, but would those prime years translate into the best seasons? Judging by his first season with the Blues, it's off to a good start.
Blues center Brayden Schenn

Schenn established career-highs in goals (28), assists (42) and points (70) having an impact role and playing consistently in the top six; he was one of two players (Colton Parayko) to have played in all 82 regular-season games, the third time in his career, for the Blues in 2017-18, and with the kind of numbers Schenn put up, the capper on a solid season would have been to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But for the fourth time in Schenn's seven full NHL seasons, he's on the outside looking in and certainly coming over from Philadelphia, where the Flyers failed to make it last season but did this year, it's a bitter pill to swallow.

Schenn talks about the level of disappointment of not being in the playoffs, what his expectations were coming here, what needs to be done to get the Blues back to the postseason and his first year in St. Louis playing with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko:

After a couple days of reflection, where's the level of disappointment not to make the playoffs?
We're all disappointed. It's a tough game to lose there in Game 82. Now this time of the year where everyone's turning their attention to the playoffs and you don't see your team out there, it's really disappointing. Playoffs are a hard thing to make. You need everyone buying in, you need everyone playing up to their capabilities and it's a tough thing to make the playoffs. It just shows you when we fell short in Game 82.

When you got traded here, you knew of the team's run of making playoffs six straight years and you had to be excited for that. On a personal level, is there more disappointment for you in that regard to miss out again after missing out in Philadelphia?
Yeah, absolutely, super disappointing. What you just said, there's six years in a row you knew you'd come to St. Louis and you knew you were going to play on a good team, especially with the start we had, too. You think you've got a chance to win a Cup and all, but when you look back after 82 games, you're not even in the playoffs. Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do this summer to get back to where the Blues are capable of being. It sucks and it's disappointing right now, but at the same time, we were pretty banged up since Day 1 this year with [Jay] Bouwmeester and with 'Steener' [Alexander Steen], 'Schwartzy' [Jaden Schwartz] going down for that amount of time was huge for us. We were one of the best teams in the league and then he's gone for six weeks and we kind of fell apart a little bit after that. It was just kind of guy after guy. We just weren't able to have a full, healthy lineup and able to compete with the rest of our division.

How much do you hope management will try to add to the depth of this team or next year in light of the injuries you had this year?
Yeah, we need depth. Every single team has depth and just guys going down and stuff like that. Guys stepped up and did a good job of filling roles, but you need players, you need bodies, especially through an 82-game season. No excuses. Injuries happen. Every team has them. We seemed to have a lot of them this year (at) key times (to) key players. You need depth moving forward. I'm sure that's something we'll probably address.

When you hear the term buy-in, what was your comfort level with this club?
It takes a while. This is all new to me. I got traded from Los Angeles when I was 19 years old. I didn't really know many of the veteran players or the guys. I was still playing junior hockey and stuff like that. I come from Philadelphia to here, it's a little bit of an adjustment period, especially not knowing any of these guys in this locker room, but it's a good group to be a part of. There's a bunch of good guys that play hard for one another in here. Now that Year 1's behind me, I obviously feel comfortable. I've had a great opportunity since Day 1 here, kind of exactly what I was looking for, playing a lot of minutes with good players and I felt I was able to show, I guess, what I have and I feel I can still get better.

How did you feel about the chemistry you had with Tarasenko and Schwartz?
We obviously had a hot start. There's no doubt about that. When 'Schwartzy' came back, it took some time for the three of us to get 'er going again. We kind of got flipped-flopped around there a little bit but towards the end, we played with each other. We feel like we can be a dangerous line, but we'll see what happens. It's obviously a lot of fun playing with two highly-skilled players that are able to create a lot of offense as well as be good in their own end.

Is there one or two things you'd like to fix for next season as a team?
The Blues are known to be tight defensively, tough to play against. If you're ever going to win, you've got to always keep that. I think offensively, you've got to score goals as well in this league and we went through a lull there where we weren't scoring a whole lot of goals. It's tough to win hockey games, and yeah, power play for whatever reason, we couldn't find the five of us for majority of ability to connect, flip-flopping guys to different spots, different setups and stuff like that. To miss the playoffs by one point having the 30th-ranked power play, that means we were doing our job off 5-on-5 offensively, but you've got to be in the top 10, top 15 at least (on) the power play if you want to do any damage.

Did you feel like the coaches did enough to mix things up on the power play to try to give you an advantage?
The other day (in the regular-season finale), they put me and 'Petro' [Alex Pietrangelo], 'Schwartzy' and 'Vladi' and 'Steener' [Alexander Steen] you'd have to say for the majority of that. It's nothing to do with the coaches obviously. It's on us. They can put a plan in place, but us as players, we've got to find ways to gel with one another, read off one another and be able to find chemistry on the power play, which we kept on going back at it and back at it. It just for whatever reason, it didn't work.

Guys were down at the trade deadline. How did you guys rally there after that?
Yeah, we felt like we were underdogs or we were banged up at the time and obviously trading 'Stas' was obviously huge for us. Everyone knows that, but guys were able to rally around that. It took a little bit a while after the deadline, but once we kind of got it going, we played some good hockey after that. Guys stepped up and played more minutes than they normally do, played bigger roles and that shows you the character in this locker room. We had guys playing good hockey for a long period of time, but at the end of the day, we just ran out of bodies, ran out of juice and like I said, it comes down to Game 82 and a tough back-to-back and we just weren't able to do it.

Was there a level of disappointment that you didn't get any help at the trade deadline?
We were for a stretch there, I don't know how many games throughout the middle of the year we were bad or under .500 hockey team so I think when Schwartzy went down, he was obviously a big piece and brings a lot of offense to our team and stuff like that. Maybe at the time, the start of the year, we were hot, we thought maybe we'd add, but when you go into a stretch where you're under .500, it's tough to add at that time. I'm sure that's something Army's going to address this summer. We'll see his attack, his point of attack and I'm sure he'll do a good job of it.

Any teams in the Central Division caught you off guard or were better than you thought they'd be?
I think if you look at the two top teams in our division right now, Winnipeg and Nashville, they stayed healthy and they were built to win. It's been a long time where they've been kind of building up for that, especially a team like Winnipeg. They've got a good team and they added at the deadline, so you never know, whoever comes out of that one, both teams are tough to play against. Even the start of our division, teams loaded up whether it's Minnesota, Dallas loaded up in the summer. Obviously they didn't make the playoffs. We know we have a tough division and it's going to be the exact same next year. Obviously hopefully add to our lineup and hopefully get healthy bodies and obviously the plan is compete for No. 1 in our division next year.

Are you fully prepared for the roster to be different when you come back next season?
Year to year, every other team, majority of teams make changes and you probably expect no different in this locker room, (especially) when you miss the playoffs. We kind of had a good start and average middle of the season and pretty decent finish for what we had. There's going to be changes; we know that. Everyone knows that and I guess we'll see what happens.

With better health next year and a couple tweaks, do you expect this team to get right back instead of more of a wholesale change?
I think if you look at the bodies we had in this locker room, we've got the horses on the backend, we've got good goalies, all of us are in our prime of our careers, whether it's 'Pary,' 'Petro,' me, 'Steener,' 'Vladi,' 'Schwartzy,' the list goes on and on there. From me personally, I don't see this as a huge rebuild. A couple pieces there and we'll be able to compete for the division next year.

You had career numbers, but do you feel like there's still room to grow your game?
Absolutely. You'll always got to find ways to get better and develop. I know year by year basis, I felt like I've done that. For me, I still feel like I can be better defensively, tougher to play against. When you're tougher to play defensively, the offensive numbers also rise. You have the puck more, but at the same time, I got a great opportunity to play a lot of minutes this year with key guys in key situations. That's what I was looking for when I got traded here. I'm looking for more of the same if not more next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment