Saturday, May 29, 2021

Blues center Brayden Schenn

ST. LOUIS -- When looking at the Blues roster of 2020-21, there always seemed to be a select few players that would be asked to multi-task. 
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues forward Brayden Schenn (left) has been a consistent all-around 
player for Craig Berube and will be an important cog moving forward.

Brayden Schenn would be one of the top choices for coach Craig Berube, whether it be to center a top line, love to the wing to change things up, be relentless on the forecheck, play a physical role, drive the net, and as we saw in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, fight.

The offensive numbers weren't quite up to par for the 29-year-old Schenn, who finished with 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) but was one of four players to skate in all 56 regular-season games.

But in the four-game sweep at the hands of the Avalanche that sent the Blues packing much sooner than they would have liked, or hoped for, Schenn was one of many whose offense dried up in that series, with the Blues only being able to score seven goals in four games. He scored a power-play goal and was a minus-6 in the series, but it was a Blues team decimated by injuries, not just in this series, but throughout the season, and one that was overmatched by Colorado.

Schenn closed out his final interview session of the season discussing the championship window, two years removed from winning the Stanley Cup, what went wrong against the Avalanche and other topics. Here's what he had to say:

Do you feel like the championship window is closing:
No, we feel that we can compete with the best teams in the league. We don't feel, as a group at all, that our window is closed at all. Obviously, I'm sure there will be some changes this summer, but we have good pieces here, a great goaltender ... there's no reason we can't be at the top of the league next year once we have a full, healthy lineup.

Team hasn't been the same since entering bubble, why:
Yeah, obviously we were a top two team in the league (and) since the bubble haven't been able to find that form. I think all year, obviously it's a different year with everything happening. I find it was a little bit harder to become a team and really get to know your teammates compared to previous years and I think that's what this team is really built on. It's built on culture, it's built on team game, guys playing hard for one another each and every night and that's starting with getting to know your teammates and laying hard for one another. I think we have to get back to that and kind of get back on the same page as far as building that back up again.

Identity tough to get to for this team this year, why:
Kind of hard to pinpoint it on one thing. I don't know how to answer that.

On the forecheck, tough defense not being the same:
I feel like, I've always said it, when you play against the St. Louis Blues as an opposing team and being a part of the team now, the team is built on  ... not superstars or guys that are going to be top two or top three in league scoring. It's built on guys that are very good players that accept roles and do what it takes to win hockey games night in and night out. That's kind of what's been happening here for the past 10 years and that's why they've been so successful making the playoffs. I think we have to get back to, like I said, the team identity of being hard to play against, hard defensively, and ultimately that wins you hockey games and ultimately that brings you success. It has in the past, and we've got to get back to (that). As a group, as an older guy on the team now, we have to make sure we're going to put full attention to that next year.

Think style needs to evolve from Cup team style:
I think personnel probably drives identity right. Yeah, you're losing hard defensive guys with Bouwmeester and Steener and Edmundson and guys like that. But at the same time, teams change every year, (and) personnel changes every year, and you have to find a way. It's going to be difficult every single year. Obviously it's a little bit different look to what we had since I've been here with a little bit more speed or younger guys with skill. But I think that's on us players and everyone - coaches and stuff like that - to help everyone buy into the Blues' style of hockey and identity. It's no fun losing, so I think that's important for us to keep on driving that culture around here.

Why did offense dry up in the series against the Avalanche:
You're looking at a series as a whole here, like we're talking they're a good team, they're Presidents' Trophy. But at the end of the day, you lose Faulk, you lose (Bortuzzo), you didn't have Vince Dunn, you don't have Oskar Sundqvist, you don't have David Perron ... those are five pretty big pieces that are going to help you win a series. Nothing against those guys that came in because they actually did a great job and played hard, but if you're going to make it to the next level and you want to advance deep, you need a healthy lineup and we just weren't able to be healthy all year. We didn't really have the pieces all in at the same time to kind of show what kind of team we were. We had Parayko out a lot, (and) he's obviously a huge piece for us. At times throughout the year you never got a look on what kind of team we could actually be. We weren't healthy at all, and going into the playoffs against a very good team, you need pieces to beat them and a full healthy lineup. We're definitely better than getting swept in that series. Obviously it would have been nice to put up a solid fight, but it's just tough, especially right before the playoffs when your leading scorer goes down with COVID.

On losing Perron:
I guess you're shocked a little bit, but it's kind of funny, we didn't really have any cases all year ... and DP obviously had a great year for us ... the power play was starting to come along and he runs it there on the half-wall for us. So yeah, it was uncertain times throughout the whole year. You never knew what exactly was going to happen, but it's tough hearing that news. You obviously always feel like you have hope and a chance, but as the series went on, you miss a big piece like that, that's able to score goals and put up points as well as bring a solid 200-foot game for us.

Should have playoff games been postponed because of Blues COVID:
No, not at all. I think the NHL is trying to get through this one and keep the schedule ongoing here because they have to worry about next year's schedule already. I mean, deep down, I don't think the NHL was even thinking about postponing playoff games and pushing it back.

On the team's net front presence:
Yeah, you know, I dried up at times. You're going to go through steaks throughout a 56- or 82-game season and playoffs. There's times where ... I'll just talk about myself personally, no sense talking about other guys ... but I just think you have to try and find ways to be better each year. Guys around the league get a book on you and kind of find your tendencies and stuff like that. So that's a job in the summer for myself to try and find ways to get better and keep on improving and pushing yourself. I guess from an offensive standpoint talking about our guys in the room getting to the net, I think it's just a mindset. It's really nothing more than that. You have to want to go to the front of the net to score goals and that's how goals are scored, especially this time of year. So it's nothing more than a mindset, I don't think.

Looking forward to normal off-season and 2021-22:
I think everyone is looking forward to it. I think it's nice to see, whether it's Florida or Nashville, they're almost full houses. It's nice to see that life is somewhat getting back to normal, especially in the States. Canada obviously is a little bit behind on that, but hopefully for the next season we can have a full season, obviously hoping nothing shoots back up with the (COVID) variants . But hopefully it's going to be a 21-22 season where hopefully we're back to normal.

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