Friday, September 30, 2016

Blue line baby boomers help Blues top Stars 4-1

Young defensemen Parayko, Lindbohm, Schmaltz 
all score, give organization glimpse of what lies ahead

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have always maintained that their organizational depth on the blue line is something that will have them set for now and in the future.

A number of them were on full display Friday in the fourth preseason game against the Dallas Stars, and all of them contributed in a 4-1 victory at Scottrade Center.

Colton Parayko, Jordan Schmaltz and Petteri Lindbohm all scored power play goals as the Blues' power play (3-for-5) and penalty kill (6-for-7) were on full display.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Colton Parayko (right) celebrates with teammates Chris
Butler and Patrik Berglund after scoring Friday in a 4-1 win against Dallas.

And the baby boomers offered a glimpse to management and the coaching staff that they'll be in good hands now and in the future.

"Seriously, it's pretty fun to watch actually," said Parayko, playing his first game after representing Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey. "Obviously it's a great group of guys. It's fun coming back to camp because it makes everyone push for a job. It makes even veterans and obviously myself being here for one year come in and work hard. It's an honor to play here and you've got to come prepared every night for sure."

Parayko and Joel Edmundson burst onto the scene as rookies last season, and in their place this year could be Schmaltz, the Blues' first-round pick in 2012.

"I think every day, you just try to get better," Schmaltz said. "I think as more preseason games go on, the more you play, the more comfortable you get and you start to feel like yourself out there. 

"... I kind of control my own destiny. You can't have a bad day in this league, especially a guy in my position. So I just try to take it day by day. Every day I feel better, I'm making more of my plays, just trying to go from there."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock certainly notices.

"We're deep, we're really deep," Hitchcock said. "Some teams ... this is the time you talk like you're deep, but we're deep. The players that are playing are contributing during the games; they're not hanging on. We're really deep. We've got a lot of good players playing back there right now. Our top two minute-munchers (Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester) aren't even here. We're pretty deep, boy."

"I think what we have is we have young, skill defensemen. Schmaltz runs a power play, Lindbohm plays on a power play, (Vince) Dunn runs a power play, (Jake) Walman runs a power play. We're deep on skilled defensemen. We've got a lot of guys that ... Parayko, (Kevin) Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo, that's where we're deep. Everybody's got defensemen that you can bang it off the glass, rim it down, clear the front of the net, everybody's got those players. We have a lot of players who can make a play and can transition a puck and can carry the puck and skate the puck, have vision, make plays. We've got a lot of those guys. We're deep that way.

"A guy that's really underrated that way is a guy like Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo can get you out of the ditch a lot. He did it when he plays. He's a good player. We have an abundance of people that can move with the puck and move the puck, which gives you the depth. I think it allowed us to be competitive last year when all the forwards got hurt and everybody went down and it's looking like it's going to be our depth again this year."

Jason Spezza scored for Dallas, which led 1-0 before Parayko's bomb from the top of the right circle tied the game 1-1 when he buried the shot through Kari Lehtonen with 1 minute, 2 seconds left in the first.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Patrik Berglund (21) checks a Stars player during
Friday's 4-1 Blues preseason victory.

Schmaltz and Dmitrij Jaskin scored goals 55 seconds apart in the second to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.

Schmaltz stepped into a Jori Lehtera pass in the right circle at 9:24 and Jaskin followed up Ty Rattie's alert individual play at 10:19, and Lindbohm concluded the scoring with a power play goal from the high slot 12:22 into the third. 

Jake Allen played two periods and stopped 15 of 16 shots before Pheonix Copley finished it off with an eight-save third period.

The Blues (3-1-0) will play at Chicago Saturday at 7:30 p.m., a game that will be shown on NHL Network.

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