The St. Louis Blues are streaking towards the playoffs. One of the biggest reasons is the model play of their first-year captain.
When the St. Louis Blues shipped Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline, there were many folks who believed the loss would be too substantial for this team to overcome. I will admit I was in that group.
But two weeks later, here we are. The Blues are red-hot and with every game it seems more likely they will be one of the eight playoff teams from the Western Conference.
A big part of that is Alex Pietrangelo.
Pietrangelo’s first year as captain could have certainly gone smoother than it has. However, I don’t think any of the Blues previous struggles were a result of him now wearing the C. I know there are quite a few people out there who might disagree. But, we don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. Us fans don’t hear the words shared on the bench and ice.
We can only really judge Alex Pietrangelo right now on is his ability to lead by example on the ice, especially during times when the St. Louis Blues need it most. And he’s doing one hell of a job.
Shattenkirk’s departure left a question mark with regards to scoring production from Blues defensemen. It also left a hole on the team’s top powerplay unit that needed to be filled.
Pietrangelo has taken that role on exceptionally well so far. He’s stepped up. He now has five points in his last seven games including an assist in four of the Blues last five wins. Two of those points have come with the top powerplay unit as well.
Petro And Jello, as he is known by NBC, can’t sustain the recent scoring rate. It will start to thin out, obviously. But until that happens, the Blues will be getting significant help that makes the absence of Shattenkirk much less noticeable.
More from Bleedin' Blue
- St. Louis Blues Prospects Shine And Fizzle In Prospects Showcase
- St. Louis Blues Giving Nick Ritchie A Look Is No Lose Situation
- St. Louis Blues Torey Krug Already Injured Before 2023-24 Season
- St. Louis Blues Need Kasperi Kapanen To Be On Best Behavior
- Former St. Louis Blues Forward Going Into Hall Of Fame
Defensively, Pietrangelo is not a concern. He never has been. He has been the Blues most consistent defender for a half-decade and that’s why the St. Louis Blues committed $45 million to him in 2013.
But he has raised his game even more in the defensive zone as of late. Specifically, his four blocked shots in the March 7th win against Minnesota played a big part in the Blues holding off a superior club. In Saturday night’s win over the New York Islanders, Petro made a great sliding play to halt an early scoring chance. He went on to block three more.
And all of this is coming with extended ice-time as well. Alex Pietrangelo has averaged just over 25 minutes per game spanning the last five seasons, including this one. But in the Blues’ last six contests, including the four wins, the captain has played 26 or more. In Friday’s win against the Anaheim Ducks, Pietrangelo was on the ice for 29 minutes. He also spent 29 minutes on ice the next night against New York. That’s a lot of shifts yet nearly all of them are productive.
But even before the Blues lost their second best defenseman, Pietrangelo was having one of his best seasons.
He has nine goals on the season. That’s more than he has scored in any campaign since 2011-2012. His discipline has also been better than usual; he has just 20 penalty minutes. Lastly, he is rarely turning the puck over. In 66 games, Pietrangelo has just 22 turnovers.
So, when you think about how the Blues might be righting the ship and beginning a real run to the postseason, don’t overlook the contributions of the former first-rounder.
Alex Pietrangelo is a major factor in the Blues’ success.