If not for a broken hand he suffered in November, Blues forward Ryan Reaves would be well on his way to a career-high in games played in a single season.

The injury cost him 17 potential starts, and instead of heading into his 36th game tonight against the Ottawa Senators, Reaves would soon be eclipsing the 60 he played in 2011-12.

Reaves is seemingly beyond his days as a question mark in the lineup, his status as a regular cemented when he signed a four-year, $4.5 million extension on Jan. 10.

But Reaves is coming off a stretch is coming a stretch in which he was a healthy scratch in back-to-back games, against New Jersey and Carolina. And it was more than a numbers' game on those nights; the club wanted more from the hulking forward.

"What's changed for 'Revo' and us is our expectations for him are really high," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Our expectations for him ... he was an OK player and did some good things, but our expectations are that he is a top-nine forward now, not a fourth-line player.

"We really feel like based on foot speed, size, hockey sense, we expect him to act and play like a third-line player, not a four. From a physicality, puck-management standpoint, we have really high expectations for him. We really think that he has the potential to be an impact player, so we want to see more."

Reaves, who averages 8 minutes, 21 seconds of ice time this season, has a plus-minus rating of -6 in his last nine games. For the season, however, he's a plus-1