ST. LOUIS -- The most frequently asked Blues question is: "Where will this team find enough scoring?"
Coach Ken Hitchcock asks it all the time while challenging his forwards to do more.
"I think there are guys capable of scoring 20, 25, 30," he said after Tuesday's practice at Scottrade Center. "If we get them to play with a higher level of finish and tenacity around the net, I think we'll be in good shape."
Last season hulking winger Chris Stewart led the Blues with 18 goals during the truncated 48-game season. Center Patrik Berglund added 17 on 74 shots. They spent much of the season playing together at even strength.
These days Stewart is playing with playmaking center Derek Roy and winger Brenden Morrow, another power-type player. The rangy Berglund is working between playmaking winger Jaden Schwartz and aspiring scorer Vladimir Tarasenko.
"We just kind of put Roy and Stewart together from Day 1," Hitchcock said. "That is the match we want. So we'll see where it goes, we'll see what happens."
Stewart scored 28 goals for the Avalanche in 2009-10 and 28 goals during the next season split between Colorado and St. Louis. After his poor 2011-12 season -- 15 goals in 79 games -- he bounced back to score at his accustomed pace last season.
Roy dished 42 or more assists in four consecutive seasons during his heyday as Buffalo's top center. Injuries took a heavy toll on him the last three seasons.
"He can really compete and hang onto the puck in small spaces for a little guy," Hitchcock said. "He's not afraid to take a hit to make a play or take a beating to make a play offensively. When he gets competing at a high level, he's a very effective guy."
Roy has the ice vision and passing ability to make Stewart a more dangerous scorer.
"He is a skilled player, he knows how to get to the areas where to shoot pucks," Roy said. "He is a goal scorer. As a playmaker I have to find him. Whenever he is around the front of the net I've got to find his stick. By now it seems like we know where each other is going to be."
On paper Hitchcock is blending power players and creative players on each of top three lines. Bulldozing center David Backes is playing between crafty Alex Steen and playmaking winger T.J. Oshie.
But Hitchcock hates to say "creative" when discussing the attributes some players bring to his line combinations.
"That's not the right word," he said. "That's a bad word to use in our league because it just means you can play on the outside and stay on the outside. What we need to do is finish. And finishing has a lot of difficult tasks in it. It means you don't go by the goalie. It means you stop in uncomfortable spaces. It means you're going to get whacked in areas. It means you're going to get hit where you're not really comfortable because it is going to come from the back of you.
"We need to be more aggressive in the scoring areas. We need to hold our ground a little bit longer and at times outwork the goaltender. Rather than slap it back at his pads and hope it goes through him, we need to pay the price to pull it off and have the confidence we can pull it back off the pads and put it under the bar. All those things are things we have been working on since Day 1.
"We show the ability to score those types of goals here in preseason but that's preseason. We scored three of them last game. Those are the elements of our game that have to get better. It's not the creativity, it has to be the finish."
In his prime in Dallas, Morrow finished in the tough areas around the net. He scored 20 or more goals seven times, and he buried a career-high 33 goals in 2010-11.
Morrow also scored 14 points in 15 regular season games with the Penguins at the end of last season. Hitchcock will give him every chance to earn a prime role here.
"With older players it's always the hands that have to catch up to the feet," Hitchcock said. "He's able to keep up mobility-wise, now he just has to get his hands up to speed where he is confident with the puck."
Backes is a two-time 31-goal scorer. Berglund has produced 19-, 21- and 22-goal seasons. Both have power forward potential.
At the moment Hitchcock doesn't see any true power forwards when he looks at his line-up.
"Power forward is a guy that is going to get you 30 ... and he can also knock the opposition right out of the box," Hitchcock said. "We have workers right now. We want to make power forwards out of some of our workers. But I think we're capable."
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