St. Louis Blues: On The Fourth Day Of Bluesmas 2017

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Carter Hutton
ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Carter Hutton /

The St. Louis Blues have some quality players on their blue line. However, for whatever reason, we often do not see how good they are as a unit.

On the fourth day of Bluesmas, my true Blues gave to me, the fourth best defense in the league. Also, three reinforced skates, two great goalies and an Adidas sweater under the tree. That’s right, the St. Louis Blues are ranked that highly.

For whatever reason, we always seem to pass over these little tidbits as fans. We judge each performance within a game, but sometimes fail to see the grander scale. I know I’m guilty of it, as are many of my fellow fans.

When we look at the St. Louis blue line, we see some good individuals. However, it does not click in our brains that they are very good as a unit.

Mostly, we hear about the guys at the top. The big names are the ones on most people’s mind.

Alex Pietrangelo, prior to his injury and hopefully after, was one of the top names on most people’s Norris Trophy list. He has only missed four games, so hopefully he has not fallen off anyone’s radar.

He was leading the league in defensive scoring for a good while and is still in the top 10. He’s also deceptively good at defending. He’s not an overpowering presence, but has good positioning and hockey smarts.

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Colton Parayko also gets a lot of the publicity. It’s no wonder too, since he skates like a forward with the body of an old-school NHL defender. He’s also got double-digit points, even if we’d like his goal totals to be higher.

Still, it’s amazing to check in on the team stats every now and then and see how good this team actually is. They are currently fourth in the NHL in goals allowed.

Don’t misinterpret that, because it’s a good thing. That means only three teams in the entire league have allowed fewer goals than the Blues have.

Of course, you cannot talk about keeping goals out without discussing the goaltenders. We kept a lot of that focus on the second day of Bluesmas, but you have to include it here too.

The stunning thing is the Blues only have two shutouts in 34 games and have still kept that high on the goals against list. Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have been great, but keeping clean sheets has proven difficult.

Some of that belongs with the defense. As well as they’ve played, there have been miscues that allowed those goals to be scored.

Overall, you can’t fault them too much. As anyone will do, you need to find fault with certain plays or certain players on certain days. However, the Blues, as a unit, are keeping pucks out.

The only team that is not in first place that has kept more goals out is San Jose. Their entire structure is built on defense though as goals have been hard to come by.

Some of it can be attributed to offense. Like the Blues, Tampa is not known for their hard-nosed defending, but they are second in the league at keeping goals out.

However, you cannot ignore the actual defensive contributions to being fourth in the league. The point shares are quite high for several players.

Both Parayko and surprisingly Carl Gunnarsson are almost at 2 for defensive point shares. That means their defending has led to an average of two points. Pietrangelo is almost at a 3 in that category.

Beyond just the back two, the Blues manage to defend as a team well too. They are best in the league in takeaway/giveaway ratio. They currently are on top with an average of 1.7 more takeaways than giveaways.

Next: Colton Parayko Proving He's A Top Defenseman

Considering how bad the Blues have been at turnovers in some instances, that shows you what kind of defense they can play. That’s the kind of stuff they’ll need come playoff time.

Who knows if this will hold. The numbers could go up or down, but the Blues have been more than consistent, so there’s no reason to think they’ll fall off much.