Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo

ST. LOUIS -- Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo's second season as captain produced a career season offensively.

Pietrangelo established career highs in goals (15) and points (54) while being the Blues' most reliable blue liner, leading the team once again in ice time at 25:44, which was sixth overall in the league.
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo

But the disappointment of not reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons was on display when Pietrangelo met with the media for his season-ending comments. He talked about the disappointment of falling a point short of reaching the playoffs, the challenges of being the captain and a host of other topics in his eighth full season and 10th overall:

How much does this stink not to be playoff-bound?
First time for me, I guess since my first year. It's been what, six or seven years? It already feels long. It's been two days, so I would imagine come June, it's going to feel really long. I guess try and use it to your advantage, get some training in and heal all the wounds and get ready.

After great start to season, did injuries knock you off the rails ultimately?
You can't use that as an excuse. Obviously it hurts losing a guy like 'Schwartzy' [Jaden Schwartz], but you lose Paul [Stastny] at the deadline and we played well. Something to identify. There's a reason why it happened and we've got to look hard in the mirror to figure out why.

Was it one game, one win, that seven-game losing streak? What was it that put you in this position?
I don't even remember half the games, but somewhere down the line, we gave up the lead, a two-goal lead, maybe a three-goal lead, I don't remember, but somewhere down the line, we did something. Even that 20-game stretch there, we were probably below .500. You win a couple games there, you're probably in the first wild-card. It's easy to say now, but again, it's why you play 82 games. You've got to make sure you're consistent throughout so you don't put yourself in that position.

What was your biggest challenge as a captain this year?
Obviously you lose the injuries and making sure that everybody's filling in. There's some ups and downs. I thought in the second half of the year, everybody just kind of grabbed a role and stuck with it. Not easy when you're in a situation like this, and it starts with me, starts with the leadership group. If we want to get better and move forward, it starts with us.

A couple years ago, you were playing for a conference title and you know what that team looks like. How far away is this team from being back there?
Well, it's a young group, but the makeup of the team is very similar. I think some of us that went there still have a real opportunity to get back to that place. Again, this is an important summer for us to 1) look in the mirror and 2) get ready and prepare yourself for next year because I think for a lot of us, for as good as we've been for as long as we are, it's a wakeup call and kick in the butt to know that it is hard just to get in and harder to get to that point.

As a captain, what's your comfort level with the room?
We've got good chemistry in here. We obviously get along real well. Again, that's only half the battle. Get on the ice and making sure we're playing well. That's the other half of the battle. I'm never worried about the room, never have been worried about this room. We really do care about each other.

How important is it to make this a tough place to play again after going just 24-17-0?
Yeah, we had spurts there in the second half of the year where we were playing well, but we've got to get back to ... this is always been a place where teams don't like coming. You get that home ice matchup, you get that crowd involved. You heard it in the last 10 games when we were pushing for that playoff spot. We've got to get back to that.

You ever feel like the power play was where it should have been?
No. I think with the talent that we have in this locker room, it can be a lot better. It's a topic for discussion and at some point, could have won us a game or two throughout the year. It's a small part of it, but it's an important part that we need to talk about.

Do you think that's more schematic or do you think that's more skill?
I don't know. It's something that we need to sit down and look at. I think it's a combination of everything.

Are you going to the World Championship?
No. I've got a lot on my hands.

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