Defensive Pair 1
Torey Krug/Justin Faulk
When Alex Pietrangelo left, the fans automatically anointed Colton Parayko as the next, top defenseman. While I agree in terms of talent and defensive ability, I’m not quite as sure in terms of who they put with the top-line forwards.
When the game is close and the Blues have a one-goal lead, I could see 55’s duo being use much more. However, to start games, I think Torey Krug and Justin Faulk get the nod because they get the puck moving.
That’s not a knock on Parayko, who has a good amount of offensive ability. As fast as he is, he doesn’t match the quickness of Krug and Faulk.
The only scary thing about this pair is defense. Re-watching some Boston games against the Blues, I marveled at Krug’s ability to hustle and get back. However, the reason he had to was because he was in the offensive zone and got caught too far up or coughing the puck up.
The same is true of Faulk. I believe we saw the real Faulk in the 2020 playoffs, where he was the Blues best defender (as a whole), but he is still offensive minded and that opens up holes.
Defensive Pair 2
Marco Scandella/Colton Parayko
If the Blues get creative, I could see them going with a top pair of Parayko and Krug. That would bump Faulk down next to Marco Scandella.
Really, that might be the more beneficial way to go. You spread out offensive and defensive abilities and always have a teammate covering the other’s shortcomings.
To start the season, however, I do not see the Blues splitting up Parayko and Scandella. They worked too well when Scandella arrived, though not as much in the playoffs.
Keeping this duo together is more the reason I would classify this as a second pairing. I don’t see Scandella logging top-line minutes, so Parayko might get more special teams ice time to make up for it.
Defensive Pair 3
Vince Dunn/Robert Bortuzzo
This pairing is an interesting one. Unless the Blues pull a shocker and put Scott Perunovich on this team, you basically have three options.
The other choices are to put Carl Gunnarsson into Dunn’s slot opposite Bortuzzo or, the least likely, is to go with two left handed players. That would pair Gunnarsson with Dunn.
That last option does provide the offensive/defensive balance. It just seems unlikely the Blues go with two left handed defensemen when you have other options.
Overall, while we all have certain players we hope get more of a look, this will still be a decent team.
It’s hard to predict how well the Blues might due since they have a new division. Most of the California teams should still be pretty weak, even if improved.
Colorado and Vegas should be the main thorns in the Blues’ side. However, with the depth they possess and the availability of quality players to plug into various spots, the Blues can weather the storm of a compressed schedule as well as anyone.
They need Jordan Binnington to be closer to the 2019 Binnington than the one we saw in the 2020 playoffs. As long as that happens, this will be a championship caliber team.
You still need health and things to fall your way. It will be a fun ride though.