Grading the Blues defense - Part 1

Grading the Blues defense - Part 1

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Grading the Blues defense - Part 1

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by Andrew Allsman / Hockey StL

KMOV.com

Posted on May 31, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 2 at 4:19 PM

Alex Pietrangelo:

There aren’t many defensemen in the league that are better than Alex Pietrangelo. What makes him so good is his attention to detail and his ability to make his teammates better. Pietrangelo has a solid defensive game, but his best quality is his offensive ability. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said this year that Pietrangelo has a well-rounded game, but it’s the little things he does that make a head coach happy. A lot of those things go unnoticed sometimes. Pietrangelo is considered one of the top defensemen in the league. He has already been in the discussion for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s best defenseman, but many believe it is just a matter of time before he is a finalist for the award. This year, Pietrangelo had 24 points (five goals, 19 assists) in 47 games. It wasn’t Pietrangelo’s best season, but it was another solid year as expectations continue to rise for the young defenseman. Pietrangelo’s 19 helpers were tied for second-best on the Blues. Pietrangelo had two postseason points (one goal, one assist) in six games. He is looking for a nice pay raise this offseason as he negotiates a new contract.

Regular season grade: B

Playoff grade: B

 

Kevin Shattenkirk:

With a game similar to Pietrangelo’s, Kevin Shattenkirk is becoming more and more known throughout the National Hockey League. When he was acquired by the Blues in 2011, Shattenkirk was a highly touted defenseman that had a lot of talent and a lot of upside. Now, Shattenkirk has become a big part of the Blues, and is considered to be one of the better young defensemen in the league. Shattenkirk had one fewer point than Pietrangelo did this past season. Shattenkirk’s 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) were second among Blues’ defensemen. Shattenkirk was one of the league’s best defensemen in terms of points early in the season as well. In the playoffs, Shattenkirk had two assists in six games. It was another great year for Shattenkirk, who, like Pietrangelo, is looking for a pay raise this offseason. While Shattenkirk doesn’t get as much hype as Pietrangelo, the two are very close in terms of skill and production, and both are key to the Blues’ plans moving forward.

Regular season grade: A

Playoff grade: B               

 

Roman Polak:

There has never been a time where you could say Roman Polak wasn’t consistent. The coaches know what he brings to the table, and he does his job every single night. Polak is probably one of the strongest players, if not the strongest, on the Blues roster, and he’s not afraid to use his strength to be effective. Polak won’t score many goals, he won’t have many assists, but he is as solid on defense as anyone in the league. Often times, Polak does not get the credit he deserves, but he certainly does his job every night. In the regular season, Polak had six points (one goal, five assists) in 48 games. While his stats aren’t great, his game is. Polak rarely makes a bad play defensively, and it is why he is an asset for the Blues.

Regular season grade: B

Playoff grade: B-

 

Barret Jackman:

The seasoned veteran had one of his better seasons in recent memory. Jackman, who is not known for his offensive skill, found ways to contribute in the offensive zone this season, as well as play his usual shut-down defensive game. Jackman had 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 46 games. Jackman not only is a leader for the Blues, but he is also a player that plays heavy minutes for the club against top opponents. While Jackman isn’t as effective as he used to be, he still is a serviceable defenseman for the Note. Jackman’s foot speed isn’t always good enough to keep up with opponents, and he does make a few questionable plays, but regardless, he is a big part of the Blues’ team.

Regular season grade: B

Playoff grade: B

 

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