Monday, June 20, 2011

Pietrangelo getting jumpstart on new season

After breakout first campaign, Blues'
defenseman, teammates in midst of summer workouts

ST. LOUIS -- By all accounts, it's been a busy and hectic year for Alex Pietrangelo.

The Blues' defenseman completed his first full NHL season by playing in 79 of the team's 82 games for starters. But after the Blues missed out on the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, instead of making a dash to some exotic getaway for a little R&R, the 21-year-old was off to Slovakia to represent Canada at the World Championships.

Combined with the handful of preseason games, it was roughly a 90-game schedule for the Blues' cornerstone defenseman. For a lot of young players, it could be construed as more than enough games.

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo                                               Getty Images
Yes, Pietrangelo did take some time off -- roughly 2 1/2 weeks -- after returning from Slovakia in early May, but it didn't take long to get back to work.

There's no time like the present to get ready for the 2011-12 season, right? That's how a number of Blues players are approaching it as they work out at the team's training facility at St. Louis Mills along with the help of strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte.

"It's the third week into the workout to just kind of get back into the swing of things," said Pietrangelo, who's been joined by fellow teammates Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian Cole, Ben Bishop, Ty Conklin and a handful of team prospects in recent weeks. "You take a couple weeks off at the end of the season, but you kind of itch to wake up in the morning to do something because you're so used to it during the season. This is kind of the first step towards training camp."

By all accounts, Pietrangelo's first season as an NHL player was a successful one. In 79 games, he led the Blues' d-men in a number of categories, including goals (11), assists (32), points (43), plus-minus (plus-18) and average time on ice (22:00).

He then went on and arguably was Canada's most consistent player at the Worlds, leading the team in plus-minus (plus-9) in seven games.

Then it was off for some actual R&R. Even players that are in the best of shape need some time to allow the body to unwind.

However, Pietrangelo was more than eager to get back and resume daily workouts.

"(The 2 1/2 weeks is) a long time," Pietrangelo said. "You're just sitting around and not doing much.

"You don't jump into this right away and go crazy. You kind of ease your way into the summer program and Nelson's been really good with that. Right now, I'm slowly starting to get into the thick of it and the grind of the workouts."

The Blues offer their players a summer program of their choosing here in St. Louis. A number of players are working out on their own and the program is not required to be fulfilled. But whether here or at their summer homes, Blues players seem eager getting ramped up for what they hope is a playoff year.

"You tell Nelson what you want to work on and he'll tell you the exercises for you," Pietrangelo said. "To allow the guys to come here and work out and get under Nelson's supervision, it's really good to see. The coaching staff and the management like to see that."

The summer days, especially those that come immediately after the end of the Stanley Cup final, will be time spent wisely for those players that ran the gamut in these playoffs -- particularly the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks. But for the Blues, they want to be where the Bruins and Canucks were.

That's plenty of incentive to get the bodies amped up now.

"It's tough to watch them raise the Cup," Pietrangelo said. "We didn't make the playoffs, but it's still difficult to see. ... That's why you want to start working out now so next year, you get that opportunity. You want to know that your body's ready to go that far."

Especially for a Cup final Game 7, which Pietrangelo said is every hockey player's dream.

"You grow up pretending you're in the finals of the Stanley Cup ... Game 7, scoring that winning goal, but it's true," he said. "Watching that game, what an opportunity it would have been to experience what that would have been like to be a part of. This organization's going the right way. Hopefully one day, we'll get that opportunity."

1 comment:

  1. Dont worry about the stupid rule that kept you from the Calder Petro. You have a Norris waiting for you