Nichols on NHL: Hockey Hearsay

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recalls that early into his 28 games for the Blues’ American Hockey League subsidiary this season, Jaden Schwartz had inconsistencies. His more recent play is an indication of what growing time can do.

Schwartz has points in eight of his last 10 starts, with four goals and five assists. For the season, he has nine goals and eight assists, tied for second on the club in goals, tied for second in points. At the same time, the once-sluggish Rivermen (13-12-2), who won only two of their first 12 games, paddled to six wins in succession before losing Friday to Charlotte.

“It kind of gives you a little more confidence,” said Schwartz, who had an assist and a shootout goal in a win over Charlotte on Thursday. “To know how much room I have out there and stuff like that is big. I know last year when I got (to St. Louis), it was kind of a shock to me and I didn’t have as much confidence, definitely, as I do now.

“So I’m trying to make the best of it and I feel like I’m getting better as each day goes on.”

Schwartz has gotten his skates wet at both center and wing, working on power plays and penalty-kills.

Over the summer — much of it spent in St. Louis — he worked on strength-training. The 5-foot-9 Schwartz now plays at 190 pounds, which is some 12 to 15 pounds heavier than when he joined the Blues last spring.

“I knew coming in I was going to be playing against older, bigger guys, so I had to have a good offseason, and I did that,” Schwartz said. “So definitely, in the corners and with my battle-level, it makes a difference.

“I think my center of gravity is pretty low as it is, being a smaller guy. But there were just certain aspects of the game, certain areas where I have to give myself an advantage being one of the smaller guys. I think with the offseason I had, I came in with more confidence and it’s helped me this year.”