ST. LOUIS -- Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo completed what could be argued as the best season of his NHL career.
Pietrangelo missed nine games during the regular season with a knee injury but finished with seven goals and added 30 assists in 73 games; he added another two goals and eight assists in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games in helping the Blues reach the Western Conference Final for the first time in 15 seasons.
Pietrangelo was No. 1 in the playoffs among those that played a minimum 10 games in the playoffs in ice time at 28 minutes 48 seconds per game and was fifth overall in the playoffs. He talks about the reflection of the season, approaching the offseason and playing a lot of minutes this season:
|Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo|
Reflection on what you were able to accomplish as a team: A little bit of everything. Disappointment is obviously the first thing that comes to mind. You put in a lot of effort, a lot of guys put in a lot of time here over the last six, seven years, too, and to come the closest we've ever come is obviously disappointing, but sitting back these last couple days with the guys with their wives and kids and kind of going through the year, going through all the memories and stuff, it's fun to look back and be happy with what we accomplished.
Was it personally the most satisfying year for you?
Yeah. We've seen a lot of things over the last few years here; we've had a lot of disappointment. For myself and for other guys who have been here for a while to be able to take this group to the next level, for the city, for the organization, it's a good feeling. It's something to be proud of and it's something to know that there's obviously something more to accomplish. There's another level that we need to get to. We'll worry about that in a couple weeks.
How do you approach this offseason? Do anything different knowing what you just went through?
I think you realize how hard it is to get to the finals and win. All four teams that were there, you realize how difficult it was to get to that point. I think we realize as a group in here how important it is to have everyone involved, how important it is to play for one another more so than ever. That was probably the biggest thing we learned. We didn't get to where we wanted to be, so there's obviously some things that need to change, but we'll address that once we'll be able to decompress.
On playing a lot of minutes, wearing down:
Obviously it takes a toll on you. That's the furthest we've ever been. That's the most hockey I've ever played. It does take a toll on you, but I think we have a great group of flow guys there. Everybody was chipping in there at the end. I think we used more balance in that third round more than any. I think we learned a lesson. I've never played that many minutes, so it's a good learning curve.
On not being the same roster going forward:
There's a few guys that have asked me that I'm trying not to think about it. We've talked all year about how close this group is for a reason. We're not just saying it because it's the right thing to say; we truly believe in that, we really care for each other. ... Just driving home last night and everyone there with their wives and kids and go through the year, having the opportunity to catch up with everybody, it's not a good feeling knowing that it might not be everybody back, but hopefully everybody is. That's not up to me. If it was up to me, everybody would be back.
Can you imagine a locker room without Backes?
Uhh, no. It's going to be an interesting summer obviously. Him and I are obviously real close. He's in my wedding party, so getting married the day after (July 1, the start of free agency), July 2nd. I'm going to smash his cell phone.
On being named to Canada for World Cup of Hockey:
I guess it made the last couple days a little bit better. It's obviously an accomplishment. I feel happy about that obviously. I've represented Canada in the Olympics, and not in the World Cup. It's obviously a big accomplishment for me and my family. It's going to be exciting in Toronto, too, for all my family and friends.
On Hitch's job this year and does he deserve to return?
(* answered before Hitchcock was brought back on a one-year extension):
He pressed the right buttons this year. Look where he got us. Whether he's back or not is not up to me. Everybody has nothing but respect for him in this room. He led us to this point. That's up to the people above me, but he did a great job this year.
On getting fed up with Hitch at times; does he still have burning desire?:
You're always going to get mad at your boss, right? Hitch is a competitor. He knows how to push the right buttons. It's not easy to accept it in the moment, but when you look back and look at the overall picture now of what he was able to do, obviously he's doing it for a reason. He's had success in this league for so long for a reason. Sometimes you don't always agree with it, but it works.
Does Hitch still have what it takes; can his style work?
He's done it. There's a lot of teams that do it. San Jose did a lot of that, too, the way we wanted to play. I think it works. I think this team's built in here to play that way. We've had a lot of success in the last few years in the regular season and this year obviously to get to where we were, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it worked.
Will you watch the final or ignore it?
I might watch a little bit of it. I think this year coming so close, it's been the biggest disappointment. I don't know if I want to watch it, but this time of year other than baseball, there's not much to watch.