Thursday, February 20, 2020

Scandella has strong debut in Blues' 1-0 win against Coyotes

Defenseman played 19:24, had three hits, one blocked shot, one takeaway, 
broke up multiple would-be scoring opportunities playing with Parayko

ST. LOUIS -- Marco Scandella couldn't have picked a better time to debut with the Blues.

And the 29-year-old defenseman fit in as if he's been part of this corps of defensemen for quite some time.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Marco Scandella (6) defends the puck against Coyotes forward 
Conor Garland on Thursday night in his Blues debut. 

Scandella's debut included 19 minutes 24 seconds of ice time. He partnered with Colton Parayko, slotting right in for the man he's replacing: Jay Bouwmeester. Scandella didn't record a shot on goal in the Blues' thorough 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes in a lopsided game stats-wise but the scoreboard, thanks to Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta.

But Scandella, acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday for a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2021 fourth-round pick, had three hits, one takeaway and one blocked shot in his debut and couldn't have played a more solid game.

"It was a lot of fun out there," Scandella said. "I feel like the crowd was into it too. Playing a home game is a lot easier to start off and I felt like we played the right way, so it was just a great game for us."

There were multiple plays where Scandella, all 6-foot-3, 212 pounds of him, was solid on his zone. He broke up one potential would-be 2-on-0 break for Arizona, which could only muster up 14 shots while surrendering a whopping 46. But they were key breakups and wanting to throw him right into the fire, coach Craig Berube had Scandella on the ice in the first period while the Blues were defending a 53-second 5-on-3 Arizona power-play.

"That's what he's going to be, he's going to be a killer for us," Berube said. "He's going to be a shutdown role guy. 

"I thought he did a great job tonight. He skates well, he's got a good stick, physical. He did what we asked him to do tonight."

Scandella had two abbreviated practices with the Blues (34-17-10) and thrown right into the mix, and playing in the shutdown role that Parayko and Bouwmeester made famous for in the Blues' run to winning the Stanley Cup.

"Yeah, playing with Parayko is pretty fun with him," Scandella said. "He talks a lot, big-moving defenseman, puck-moving defenseman. I felt like we were building that chemistry tonight, talking a lot on the ice and made it easy."

Parayko agreed.

"Really good. It's obviously tough. You've got to come into a new system and stuff but he played really well," Parayko said. "He was really communicative. That helps when you have someone that talk a lot and just kind of has ears for you and understands where he's at. He was really good, played well offensively, defensively, looking forward to playing with him some more.

"He made some really good plays coming back into the zone and I can think of a bunch right off the top of my head."

Scandella was poised with the puck, activating into the offensive zone when needed, but this was a first game where he wanted to make sure he added to the Blues' staple of playing solid defense and making it tough to get scoring chances.

"I just feel like that's what I bring to the table," Scandella said. "My role back in Minnesota when we had a few playoff runs was play a good defensive game, kill penalties but definitely not shy to get in on the offense, get moving in the offensive zone. I felt like we did have some when we were creating, me and Parayko. We were creating movement and creating a little bit of chances. I felt like I was playing my game. That's what I do, I skate well and I just want to move the puck well."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Marco Scandella made his debut on Thursday against
the Arizona Coyotes in a 1-0 St. Louis win.

Doug Armstrong felt he needed to add to the Blues' blue line depth and add experience, a guy who is big, strong and can fit the fabric of what the unit offers.

If a first impression is any indication, Blues fans will like what they will see.

"That's part of my role, shutdown defenseman first," Scandella said. "But I feel like everyone played collectively well tonight. It was a great team effort."

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