Sunday, June 5, 2022

Blues defenseman Colton Parayko

ST. LOUIS -- It was no secret that when the Blues went, Colton Parayko went, and when he didn't, the team suffered.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (right) led the team in ice time (23:34)
and played in 80 games this season after back issues in 2020-21.

The team leader in minutes played this past season at 23:34 was going to be on the ice for important minutes, and for the most part, aside from a hiccup here and there, it went foundationally well for the 6-foot-6, 228-pound 29-year-old. 

Parayko played in 80 games this season after skating in just 32 regular-season games last year due to lingering back issues that he said are alleviated now; he finished with a career-high tying 35 points (six goals, 29 assists) and finished with a plus-16 rating after at one point being a minus-16 on Jan. 29 when the Blues headed into their not-so-Olympic break.

Playing top-pair minutes, whether it be with Nick Leddy, Marco Scandella, Niko Mikkola, Justin Faulk, Torey Krug, whoever it may have been, as a season in whole, Parayko was on the ice against top forwards and handled it well. 

Fans are going to remember a not-so-great Game 6 against the Colorado Avalanche that eliminated the Blues from the playoffs in the second round when Parayko, along with many of his teammates struggled to perform at a high level, but he will be a foundational piece for the franchise moving forward.

Parayko discusses the season as a whole, how healthy he felt this season as well as other topics:

Reflections on the season:
I think obviously, seasons are long, obviously last couple seasons an 82-game season. Lots of ups and downs obviously, a lot of injuries. I thought we had a lot of guys step in at different times. I think that was one of the keys of our team, our depth and not even the guys that we had up here but some of the guys that came in from the AHL, and obviously that's huge when you know you have that depth and obviously they're playing really good hockey down there right now too. I believe they haven't lost yet in the playoffs. So from our team perspective, I thought we grew throughout the year, had a really good start. Maybe some ups and downs a little bit throughout the season, which I think you're going to see through a lot of teams’ seasons and that's normal, and then had a really good finish and I think we're all obviously disappointed. I think we knew we had a really good team. We're really close and obviously one bounce here, one bounce there could be the difference of still playing or not and obviously. We don't want to be here right now doing this media day. We wish we were still playing obviously but like I said, we continue to learn and get these experiences and just understand how hard it is to win and it's very tough.

On if you came back and played at high level this season:
Yeah, I thought obviously last year was tough with everything that was going on for sure. And even just kind of going into this year I felt a lot better, which was good. I was still feeling really good. And I thought for me personally it was obviously a big step from the previous year just based on everything that was going on and so obviously happy to be where I'm at.

On play of defense and if it made strides:
For sure. Obviously, I thought we had a really good season back there. I thought as the season grew too, we continued to get better or as the season went on. Sorry, I was gonna say that the season went on, we continued to grow but I threw that in earlier. But yeah, as the season went on, we got better and obviously we all chipped in a little bit on the offensive side too and defensively, just with help from our forwards, obviously our goaltenders just, I mean, it's easy to talk about your 'D' corps, but it was everybody around us that really made it a lot easier for us; the forwards giving us a lot of back pressure and back-checking for us and things like that, which makes it a lot easier for us to stay up in the play, makes it harder for them to generate things. But obviously throughout the year, I was definitely impressed and happy with how we grew and went.

One or two things team needs to be better moving forward:
Maybe we touched on it earlier in the news conference, I mean, it's kind of easy to say, but obviously it’s a long season, just trying to string together as many games as possible with a full 60 minutes. Just things like that. I mean, it's obviously hard when you're playing that much and I would say maybe string together full 60s as much as possible and be most consistently. It's a tough one.

On how you felt this season after back problems in 2020-21:
Yeah, felt pretty good all year long. Just little things here and there but I think that's just like everybody, even just on a normal season, you get sore backs or whatever. But nothing new with an 82-game season and it held up really well.

On play of Nick Leddy:
Yeah, obviously a true professional. Very good hockey player, just the way that he comes to the rink and he changes the mood and kind of the morale of the team every time he shows up and just kind of being around him obviously he's won before. So having guys like that is huge and as soon as he was here with the team, he fit in perfectly and I couldn't be happier to have him on the team and he played really well for us. And obviously on the ice, we all saw he's just probably one of the smoothest skaters I've ever watched and just fun to be able to watch a guy like that skate every single night and get the opportunity to play beside him. So obviously very fortunate to have brought him in and definitely learned a lot from him as a person and as a player.

What does David Perron means to the team, thoughts on him returning:
Obviously we love him. Very good teammate. Just one of those guys who brings a lot of energy, a lot of life, brings the guys together all the time. You definitely know when David was in the room, and it puts a smile on everyone's face and that's the beauty of him off the ice and on the ice obviously there's no secret of how good of a player is and I think even just since I've been here, he keeps getting better as he ages, which is crazy. And it's really cool to see and I think for a lot of us, we might have to take some tips from him and how we continue to get better as we grow older. He's obviously been here for a long time, meant a lot to this team and this organization and hopefully, he's in the Bluenote again.

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