With games against the Stars and Kings, Blues to find out ‘if we’ve improved enough’

AP

The St. Louis Blues are 2-for-2 with winger Jaden Schwartz back in the lineup.

That’s no coincidence, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.

“By putting Schwartz in there, it allows us to spread the minutes out even more,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch. “We’re able to have a higher level of energy because of it and we’re able to have a higher level of energy later in the game because of it. To be effective the way we play, we’ve got to increase the volume in the offensive zone, and by having a high level of energy, we’re able to increase the volume. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better at it.”

On Friday, the Blues beat the Panthers, 5-3, in Schwartz’s first game back from a fractured ankle. They beat the Lightning, 2-1, two days later.

Though Hitchcock would still like to see his team spend more time in the attacking zone — St. Louis has not eclipsed the 30-shot mark once in its last seven games — he’s “really looking forward” to this week’s home games against division leaders Dallas (tonight on NBCSN) and Los Angeles (Thursday) to find out “if we’ve improved enough.”

The Stars and Kings, after all, are the caliber of teams the Blues will need to defeat if they’re to make a deep playoff run. Dallas could even be a first-round opponent.

You can bet GM Doug Armstrong will be watching closely as well. The trade deadline is Feb. 29, less than two weeks away, and there’s reason to believe he could be active.

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