Second time's a charm: Perron a natural fit in return to Blues

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 19: David Perron #57 of the St. Louis Blues scores a goal against Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators at the Scottrade Center on November 19, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)

On the same day last July that Doug Armstrong watched David Backes and Troy Brouwer agree to play elsewhere, he signed David Perron. At the time, the move elicited an ‘oh, well at least they did something’ reaction from the fan base. Perron wasn’t going to replace the production of two veteran leaders all by himself, but nobody really expected him to.

Through the buzz surrounding an impending trade of Kevin Shattenkirk, folks thought another top-six forward was on the way. But the Rick Nash-type never came. The Blues held onto Shattenkirk, calling the methods of the front office into question.

‘Is that all?’

David Perron and a trade late in training camp for former Nail Yakupov were the only offseason upgrades made to the Blues corps of forwards. No slight to Perron, but that seemed dubious at the time. How could the Blues parlay the momentum from last year's tremendous campaign into another strong season if they performed more subtraction than addition over the offseason?

It's starting to look like the cacophony sold short the return of David Perron, who extended his point streak to four games with a first-period goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Predators. Until Vladimir Tarasenko delivered a wicked wrister later in the game, Perron and his six goals were momentarily tied for the team-lead on the season. Though the numbers are somewhat tilted by an outburst on October 22nd, when Perron recorded a hat trick in Calgary, Perron has flashed versatility beyond his goal-scoring through his recent performance.

“He’s really competitive at the puck,” Ken Hitchcock said of Perron. “He’s got a big man’s game at the puck that makes him a very effective player in the NHL right now.”

Perron’s competitiveness at the puck was on full display in Saturday’s win. During one third-period penalty kill in particular, Perron was twice instrumental in ensuring the Blues could successfully clear the puck. Don’t minimize his impact offensively, though. Perron’s six points in four games includes two goals and four assists, as he has begun to thrive in his role in the Blues offense.

“He’s got a big role here,” Hitchcock said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in his game.”

Saturday’s scoring began with Perron’s goal, which he scored on a rebound of a Jay Bouwmeester shot coming out of a face off. With his vintage backhand, Perron gave the home crowd its first chance to holler on the evening.

“I was trying to pick (James) Neal on the face off, I knew it gives Bo a little more time to make a play there,” Perron said. “I turned around once I knew I was going to have enough time. I was just happy that he kind of—I wouldn’t say 'gift' because I still have to make a move—but I kind of expected him to maybe glove that. Once he didn’t do that, I was able to go on my backhand and put it in.

The impeccable backhand impressed the whole arena, including a referee who broke into a smile after watching Perron do his thing. Perron's aggressiveness on the play is a microcosm of the Blues plan offensively: attack, attack, attack.

“It’s NHL hockey, if you wanna score, you’ve gotta do it,” Perron said of crashing the net. “Every coach is saying the same thing in the NHL right now. I think we can go to any room… We think that our guy is annoying when he says that, but he’s not, he’s exactly right. There are 29 other coaches saying the same thing.”

Hitchcock mentioned again Saturday that the Blues developing identity is not necessarily one that was intended. It’s a throwback to the style of the old regime, before the summer exodus of a pair who exemplified toughness in their games.

When Hitchcock makes this statement these days, he is typically referring fourth line, which gritted its way to another goal in Saturday’s win. But the coach’s sentiment applies as well to Perron; once considered a marginal addition by some, Perron is showing his fits on the ice in St. Louis, in every phase of the game.

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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