We’ve been down the entire forward roster and now we’ll take a final look at the defense. Links to the roster breakdowns are as follows, first line, second line, third line, fourth line, extras forwards, first D pairing, and the second D pairing.
The defense is questionable for the Blues as we have a lot of young players and we don’t know if they sophomore slump will hit some of our players. However, looking at our roster, if the players perform as well as they did last year, our defense should be solid.
The Blues however are looking for growth in their players, including second year Russian defender, Nikita Nikitin.
Nikitin, 25, is coming into his second year in the National Hockey League. With a successful rookie year last season, he’s looking to have a even better year with even more playing time.
Nikitin played in 41 games last season for the St. Louis Blues, registering a goal and eight assists. Yet as you watch his play, you can see the offensive potential that Nikitin holds. He’s looking to add to this numbers with a better sophomore season this year.
The Omsk, Russia native has very good size, standing at 6’3, 217lbs, and he uses it well. He’s not an overly physical player, but when he’s in the corners and in front of the net, you can see the strength the player has knocking players around.
His defensive play vastly improved from game one to game 41 and he was even being used on the penalty kill by the end of the season. The Blues have a solid two-way defender in Nikitin and the Blues are hoping for an even bigger season out of ‘N64′, as many fans have dubbed him.
Roman Polak will man the right side on this defensive pairing and the Blues know what they get with Polak.
The Ostrava, Czech Republic native is a tank and he’s a defensive specialist. He’s big, phyiscal and can absolutely demolish players when his game is on. He’s a big part of the penalty killing unit and he’s the top defensive defensemen on the Blues roster.
The Blues only got to see Polak in 55 games last season due to a wrist injury, which saw the drop off of the Blues PK unit with him out of the line up. However when he returned, he was hesitant in his game and that is something the Blues hope goes away this season. Being hesitant slowed Polak’s game and threw his effectiveness off. He lost battles in the corners and wasn’t using size to his advantage like he had done in the past.
Polak has looked strong this pre-season and has looked like the Polak of the past. Something the Blues have to be pleased about.
Stay tuned as we’ll take a look later on at the seventh defensemen and who could see time on the back end this season. Then it’ll be off to check out the netminders.
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