Chris Stewart is an extremely streaky player. When he's on, he scores goals in bunches. When he's off, you barely notice him out on the ice and you're often left questioning his effort.
Against the New York Islanders, Stewart was pretty invisible and it's only partially due to his own performance. Stewart received just 5:32 of playing time on Saturday against the Isles. That was the smallest amount of playing time on the team. By comparison, Ryan Reaves received 9:09 and Maxim Lapierre received 9:55.
It's worth noting that Stewart was healthy and was sitting on the bench. Simply, his name wasn't called.
You can't really blame Ken Hitchcock for cutting his time. Not only is it a way of sending a message to a player, but it's also better for the team to have a player out on the ice who might be able to contribute a bit more. Stewart has been dreadful of late, going eight games without a goal. He's looked slow and he's often seen standing around defensively. He's been a liability. Fans are already talking trade – which is a bit premature – but it is fair to say the Blues have been better of late when he's on the bench.
This is a disappointing, but not surprising development. Stewart is as streaky as they come. He'll post 4+ goals in a week and then quietly skate through a handful of games without making an impression. This all comes on the heels of a two-year, $8.3 million contract. Stewart isn't living up to his current $4.15 million hit against the cap.
To date, Stewart's playing time in 2013-14 averages out to 13:33 a night. His 5:32 on Saturday was a noticeable message. Will he respond?