St. Louis’ two most improved players happen to be on the 4th line, and they’re doing their jobs extremely well. It’s a shame that these particular players aren’t being rewarded with wins because they show up every night and play the same game. Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev have earned a ton of respect and trust from Blues fans.
Sundqvist has taken everyone by surprise with his new level of confidence. He’s become a very opportunistic player that makes the most of every stride. Oskar seems to get to his spots now, and faster. He’s making great decisions and acting on instinct. His hockey habits are sound and he has a very well-rounded game.
He and his center, Ivan Barbashev have bought into their roles and both have performed wonderfully. In fact, they’ve been one of the most consistent displays of chemistry and hard work that this club has had to offer. Both players average under 12 minutes per game on the 4th line but are obviously highly trusted pieces of this team.
Barbashev and Sundqvist are well-disciplined players that do not take a lot of penalties. In 31 games, Sunny has spent 12 minutes in the box. Barbie has served just 9 minutes in 37 games. These guys can usually be counted on to play the game the right way.
Over 70 percent of both players zone starts are defensive. Last season, Ivan Barbashev averaged 53% offensive zone starts. Oskar Sundqvist averaged 33%. It’s obvious Barbashev has been asked to adjust the most. Regardless, both are answering the call this season.
They’re obviously doing the little things right. They must first defend their own, then gain the offensive zone before they’re able to start creating even-strength opportunities. They’re doing just that. Collectively, the duo is good for 30 takeaways and only 4 giveaways. Keep in mind both of these guys do their fair share of penalty killing as well.
Barbashev is 1st in shot percentage on the team with 26.3%. He’s registered 19 shots on goal and scored 5 times (one being short-handed). Oskar Sundqvist is 3rd on the team at 17.1%. He’s put 41 shots on goal and has scored an impressive 7 goals (all even-strength). Only Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron have scored more even-strength goals than Oskar Sundqvist.
I think these guys can keep it up. They just click.
They’re also a part of this team we can appreciate.