Alex Pietrangelo was outstanding for Canada today as they downed Norway via a 3-1 final. To St. Louis Blues fans, this was business as usual for the fleet-footed defenseman. For folks that are less familiar with the way he plays—most of Team Canada’s fans, it seems—it was a wake up call.
A lot of people watching the game weren’t very happy with the fact that Pietrangelo was playing while P.K. Subban watched from the stands.
I’d have Duchene over Bergeron and Subban over Pietrangelo.
— Charlie Hammerton. (@itsHammertime93) February 13, 2014
And this nugget…
Subban would be so much better than Pietrangelo #GoCanadaGo
— Dominic Forgues (@DominicForgues) February 13, 2014
And this one…
No, no, Canada. I’m sure P.K. Subban would do even worse than the two straight shots into the forward’s pads by Alex Pietrangelo.
— Matt Chandik (@NXTMatt) February 13, 2014
The negative tweets go on and on. Search for them if you’re bored and want a good laugh, because the folks making these claims are tragically misinformed. That’s not their fault. Odds are the Blues aren’t on Hockey Night in Canada all that often, so the defenseman that only scores 40 points in a season while remaining defensively strong might not seem like a good option over Subban.
Let’s be clear though: Subban is a forward in defenseman’s clothes. Is he awful in his own zone? No. But he’s nowhere near as strong as Pietrangelo.
According to BehindtheNet.ca, Subban barely has a positive corsi number this season. It sits at 0.66. That means the Montreal Canadiens just barely create more shots while he’s out on the ice, which is strange since he’s such a vaunted offensive-defender.
This isn’t to take anything away from him. He’s an incredibly talented hockey player, but he’s not a better two-way defender than Pietrangelo. Not only does the Blue help produce more shots on average, but he does it while playing against tougher opponents.
Canada plays two games in a row and will face Austria tomorrow. Head coach Mike Babcock already stated that Subban would get into the lineup for that contest, so leaving him out today was obviously a move to keep him fresh for the second of back-to-back games. Why people took to flaming Pietrangelo—who is clearly a superior two-way defender—because of this coaching decision is silly and beyond reason.
That’s my two cents and I’m sticking to it.
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