Saturday, January 27, 2018

Armstrong feels Pietrangelo, Schenn as All-Stars are "deserving"

However, Blues GM feels captain's first All-Star selection was a long 
time coming; feels Schenn was a motivated player when traded to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Of course Doug Armstrong is pleased that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo is an NHL All-Star this weekend.

But the Blues general manager feels like this honor has been a long time coming.

"The All-Star Game is a reflection of offensive statistics," Armstrong said. "Alex has been our No. 1 defenseman for a number of years here, but I think probably for three consecutive years his offensive zone starts were polar opposites to a lot of offensive players.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (27) was selected to his first All-Star Game
this weekend in Tampa.

"Here's a player that's been an end-of-the-year All-Star and he's in his first All-Star Game. When they're picking for the All-Star team, they're not looking for the best (all-around) players, they're looking for the best offensive players. When you're looking at the best players that play 200 feet, I think that offensively, this year he's going to go to the All-Star Game, but he's been an All-Star caliber player for a number of years."

Pietrangelo, 28, has 35 points (eight goals, 27 assists) in 47 games this season and is statistically on target to eclipse the two seasons he's put up career-high 51 points (2011-12 and 2013-14), but with the added responsibility of being captain of the Blues for the second season now, continuing to grow as a leader and being the No. 1 defenseman on this team for a number of years, it's been long overdue to see him among his peers at All-Star weekend in Tampa today and Sunday.

"My goal is to play in every situation, contribute in all situations and they've given me the opportunity to do that," Pietrangelo said. "I've got to make sure I contribute as much as I can, not only offensively and defensively, but being a leader and all that. A lot of responsibility playing in all those situations, but I take it.

"... Obviously the way the whole team started, we had some ups and downs, and think overall the way this group has meshed together, our game's at a better spot than it was a month ago. I think things are going in the right direction. We feel good about our game. Obviously there's going to be some lapses, but this is a group that cares and put a lot of time and effort and make sure we build this thing heading into the second half of the season."

And Pietrangelo, who brought along wife Jayne, his parents Joe and Edi and brother-in-laws, will make the best of it.

"I'm going to have fun out there," Pietrangelo said. "I get along well with those guys, so I'll make sure I enjoy it. Take it all in.

"... The first one is obviously special. I have to make sure I enjoy it."

Continuing to grow as a leader has made the second-year captain more cognizant of the big picture in the list of accomplishments towards the team goal.

"I knew I was going to take a bigger role offensively and defensively with the departure of 'Shatty,"' Pietrangelo said of Kevin Shattenkirk. "I guess that started in the second half of last year, but being the second year, and a captain too, I think it was a good opportunity to build my leadership and that was something I wanted to do. I certainly feel more comfortable than I did last year, but still a work in progress and should enjoy it though."

"I think he's learning, he's getting stronger every day," Armstrong said. "He takes a lot of pride in (being a leader) and I see that."

As for Schenn, who leads the Blues in points (50), assists (29) and is tied with Vladimir Tarasenko for the team lead in goals (21), Armstrong never wavered from thinking this would be a motivated player after acquiring him from the Philadelphia Flyers on the first night of the 2017 NHL Draft on June 23 for a package of Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 first-round pick.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brayden Schenn (right) is also a first-time All-Star who has been a huge
pickup after the Blues traded for the center iceman last summer.

"He's competing all over the ice for us and playing all situations," Armstrong said. "He's really fit into our culture very well as far as his character and what he provides off the ice. He's taking a bigger step towards our leadership group and his point total and goal total are of those of a top six forward.

"All players want to have a positive effect on the team. For whatever reason in Philadelphia, he would play multiple positions. We saw him as a centermen and that's where he thought he could develop. Mike did a good job of finding that synergy with he and [Jaden] Schwartz. They haven't looked back. Any time you go to a different organization, you try and put your best foot forward and we thought no different there."

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