Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Blues scoring up, defensemen doing their part

Blue liners have accounted for eight goals the 
past six games, getting green light to join rush

ST. LOUIS -- Taking a look at the Blues' recent stretch of games, they've scored three or more goals in 14 of 16, and they've lit the lamp 15 times the past three games, scoring five goals in each.

They've scored an impressive four goals in 11 of 16.

But prior to Monday's 5-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes, one can wonder why the recent rise in scoring. Of course, there's always the notion that all lines are contributing -- which they are -- but also wonder where else the offensive sources are coming from.

Well, the blue liners are doing their bidding as well. The Blues are averaging 3.875 goals per game the past 16 going to Feb. 28, which vaulted them from 28th to 15th overall.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo celebrates after scoring a goal for the second
game in a row Sunday against Colorado.

Prior to Monday, Blues defensemen had scored eight goals the previous five games, or eight of the 21 goals scored in those five games.

Alex Pietrangelo, who has six points (two goals, four assists) the past five games, including goals in two of the past three, has a smart solution:

"We should have a 'D' on the forward line instead of on the bench," Pietrangelo joked.

But in all seriousness, defensemen are jumping into the play, their shots are finding ways to get to the net with more regularity, and most importantly, coaches are trusting them.

"I think you go through those stretches where you make good plays, you make good shots and they don't go in, and then other stretches, you're doing the exact same thing and they're finding the back of the net," said associate coach Brad Shaw. "I think we have lots of defensemen that that's a big part of their game. 

"I think Petro's game for sure lately has been a lot sharper and sometimes that comes with a little more offensive production and the puck's been going in for him or he's been giving giving it to guys to put the puck in. Sometimes it's just a reflection of the success level they're having on the ice."

Kevin Shattenkirk, who has a point in four straight games (one goal, three assists), continues to lead the defensemen with a career-high 14 goals and 43 points; rookie Colton Parayko, who has nine goals and 33 points, presents a threat with his big, booming shot from the point at all times, and the others (Robert Bortuzzo, Carl Gunnarsson and Joel Edmundson) have helped the cause.

"We're playing as a five-man unit," Pietrangelo said. "We have everybody covering for each other, everybody supporting each other. We want to play as a five-man unit, not three and two. If we can get our 'D' involved as much as possible ... some of our forwards can't really skate backwards, but if they can help us on the backside, I think that's what makes us the most effective."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Colton Parayko (55) doe a little less of this, fighting in the
NHL, his first fight Sunday vs. Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog.

With two games remaining (at Chicago Thursday and home against Washington Saturday) before the Stanley Cup Playoffs start, it would be a good element to bring into the next season of the Blues can keep the scoring going from their defensemen. 

"I just think there's a confidence level," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We've really worked on some things in the offensive zone. I just think there's a confidence level they're playing with. Obviously it's really helping us right now."

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