We are only two games into the 2017-18 season and there are already many improvements among team defense. It makes watching St. Louis Blues Hockey more fun.
During the end of the Hitchcock Era, the defense was atrocious to watch. It got old, watching players walk in to the zone, find an open man up high and snipe a shot. Not to mention, Jake Allen had little help from his defense blocking out screens.
I think my favorite bad defensive play last season had to be the John Tavares goal he scored on December 8, 2016. In this play, Jay Bouwmeester’s jock-strap ended up in the rafters. After Tavares dangles free of Bouwmeester, Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera skate right past and let him stick handle and snipe over Allen’s blocker.
In the end, you had players making bad line changes, terrible passing while exiting out of the D-zone. These are things many Blues fans do not miss.
On Wednesday night (Oct. 4), the Blues took the victory in overtime on a goal by captain Alex Pietrangelo. Captain Pietrangelo scored two of the five goals. Of the three other goals, one was scored by Colton Parayko. That’s three goals scored by defensemen plus an assist from Carl Gunnarsson.
The home opener versus Dallas was a fantastic game to watch. Two of the four goals were scored by a defenseman and two assists came from Pietrangelo. The defense played a huge role in this game.
In the two games the team has amassed a total of 25 points (9 G, 16 A). Of the 25 points, 8 have come from defensemen and 5 of the 9 goals have come from the back-end.
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Alex Pietrangelo: 2 goals, 2 assists.
Carl Gunnarsson: 1 goal, 1 assist.
Colton Parayko: 1 goal.
Joel Edmundson: 1 goal.
What I Have Seen
There have been three major improvements that I have seen. One, the Blues are locking up the middle of the ice and forcing the offensive play to the outside. Two, they are blocking shots. Three, they are boxing out the screen.
It looks like everyone trusts each other in the defensive zone. If someone attempts to block a shot, nine times out of ten, he blocks the puck. On the other side, if Allen wants to be able to see the puck, he trusts his guys in front to move out of the way and keep others away as well.
A minor improvement I have noticed is every D-man and Forward is making smart decisions passing the puck out of the zone. Which brings me to the next question.
With the great defensive play, would Jay Bouwmeester help? After watching the 2016-17 Blues, Bouwmeester’s passing did seem a little further away from teammates than anyone would have liked. However, with the new defensive system this year, there still is a high chance that Bouwmeester’s defensive skill would improve the team.
With what the Blues have shown, everyone should be excited for the next 80 games. Like they always say:
Offense wins games, but Defense wins championships.
But if it keeps up, how can offense from the defense impact the results of the 2017-18 Blues season?