Pietrangelo getting Defensive
Jake Allen gets the start tonight against Edmonton as the Blues play their first home game since March 16th.
Allen has never faced Edmonton in his short NHL career but did go 2-0 against Oklahoma City during the lockout. That OKC roster featured many of the same players who play prominent roles with the NHL club including Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Justin Schultz.
Allen is familiar with many of these guys having played with Eberle and Hall in the U-18 world Championships. He also played against Magnus Paajarvi who represented Sweden in International play.
Petro Getting Defensive….
Alex Pietrangelo entered this season with major expectations as many had him pegged to be a Norris Trophy Candidate.
It doesn’t appear that will happen, at least this year anyway. After putting up 51 points a year ago, Pietrangelo displayed the two-way game that led to him being drafted fourth overall back in 2008. This year his offensive game has taken a back seat. His 18 points is still good for 17th among NHL D-men but he certainly hasn’t made the same offensive impact.
Pietrangelo logs a ton of ice at 25:38 per game, good for 7th among D-men. His 33.1 shifts per game leads all NHL players.
Pietrangelo has been asked to play a more defending role than last year. He’s lacked a consistent partner to help ease the burden but for the most part he’s made the most of the situation. He’s played the last several games with Barret Jackman which has proven to be the best option so far. Experiments with Ian Cole and Wade Redden prevented Pietrangelo from playing as aggressive as he’d probably prefer.
It’s one thing to play 25 minutes but when those turn into 25 hard minutes it can wear on you both mentally and physically. It’s led to a change in mindset versus what we became accustomed to seeing last season. Matching up against big, heavy players has been a challenge, with this said he remains the Blues best defender.
Pietrangelo would still be on pace for 48 points in a full 82 game season. He’s been held without a point in four straight.
Kevin Shattenkirk is also fighting it offensively having gone scoreless in seven straight and nine of his last ten. It’s obvious he misses his partner Barret Jackman who he shares great chemistry with. These two communicate extremely well and you can’t overlook the fact that Shattenkirk’s play has dropped off since they were split up.
Things could change if Doug Armstrong is able to find a D-man at the deadline to play with Pietrangelo.
Some with the organization feel the recent play of Kris Russell and Wade Redden could have the team feeling less urgency to add a defenseman. Doesn’t mean they won’t, just that their recent play has them feeling better about the current situation.
Redden hasn’t been a minus in his last 13 games and is looking more and more comfortable. Ken Hitchcock says he’s no longer a visitor inside his own dressing room and now feels an emotional connection to his teammates. It took a little time but slowly but surely his game is coming along.
Russell is starting to look like the player we saw in the playoffs last spring.
Adding a quality D-man will be easier said than done. I like Douglas Murray but if he’s going to command two 2nd round picks from Pittsburgh to play 14-15 minutes a night what will the price be as we get closer to the deadline? The Murray compensation is actually a 2nd in 2013 and a 2nd in 2014 if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup, otherwise San Jose gets a 3rd rounder in 2014.
Pittsburgh needed a big body to play against the likes of Philly, Boston, and the Rangers.
Four St. Louis kids have made the U.S. National Team Development Program beginning next fall. Congrats to Matthew Tkachuk (Notre Dame commit), Luke Kunin, goaltender Luke Opilka, and Jake Henderson. This is a major accomplishment for St. Louis youth hockey. Each of these kids played for the U-16 AAA Blues this season.
Next year marks the fourth straight year a St. Louis player has made the U-17 NTDP roster. Ryan MacInnis is there now and recently was moved up to play with the U-18 club.
David Backes has now gone 11 games without a goal and has just three on the season. He’s had some chances but the puck just hasn’t gone in. Backes has a lot on his plate with the responsibility thrown at him night in and night out but even he would tell you he needs to produce offense.
More to come,
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