Alright we went over the St Louis Blues forwards in the last part. Hopefully you got that the first line has been first rate and the 3rd and 4th lines are doing their jobs above expectation for the most part. Apart from the letter grades I also explained why some have been a bit of a disappointment as well. Next we are tackling the Defense. The Defense thus far under former coach Davis Payne and current Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, has always been pretty stout. It is still one of the Organizations deepest positions in terms of prospects and NHL ready players. But that does not mean every player is going to get an A on this either. We are going to go by the pairings that have been most used.
ALEX PIETRANGELO: B
I am going to get crucified for the grade by my fellow Blues fans and writers. Petro is rumored to be the main reason why Erik Johnson was expendable to get Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. The reason why I give him a B is not because he has been bad defensively. It is because I think he has kind of been so-so on offensive. For someone that was slated to be the Quarterback of the power play, he has only one PP point. Granted that the Blues PP has major issues, part of the blame has to go on Petro for not producing. Overall on the season he has 4 goals and 5 assists and is a +11. He is tied for 70th in the NHL for pts for a defensman. It has been pretty disappointing to say the least on the offensive side of things for a player known as a two way defender.
CARLO COLAIACOVO: B+
Carlo once again in his career missed some time due to injury. The thing about Cola is that when he is healthy he anchors a PP that starts producing. Cola is known for his puck moving abilities. Over the past few years wearing the blue note, Carlo has also stepped up defensively as well. Boasting a total of a +10, and +4 this season. In 18 games this year he has 1 goal and 7 assists. Other then injuries he does not make mistakes that make you aware that he is consistently being noticed for.
BARRET JACKMAN: A
This is another grade I will just get clobbered for. As bad as everyone thinks he has been in the past, this year has been quite a bit different for someone who was tailor made for the trap. This season the longest tenured Blue has been quite the pesky leader wearing an A. Jax is not afraid to get in people’s face but has seemed to learn to push it to the line but not step over it this year. His M.O has always been taking terrible penalties, but this year has been a bit different. While I am not a supporter of his, I am indifferent. I like when he does well, but watch out ifhe does bad. He is a veteran now and the expectations on the stay at home defenseman is just that. Shut down the opposition, and do not take bad penalties. He has done just that this season, and has also added 5 assists and is a +6.
KEVIN SHATTENKIRK: A+
Kevin is enjoying a very good sophomore year in the NHL. Right now he currently sits tied for 23rd in the NHL for points sitting at 16 points. @shattdeuces has quickly become an offensive stalwart in the league, and isn’t so shabby on the defensive side of things either. Purely known as an offensive defenseman, Shattenkirk has made strides over the offseason, and regular season learning positioning and gaining strength needed to knock players off the puck, he sits at a +6 to show his improvements. Captain Kirk as is an anchor on the 2nd PP which is a shame. I think is Shatty was paired up with Cola on the blueline the PP would have some better numbers.
ROMAN POLAK: B-
The man that is neither Roman nor from Poland has been a bit of a downer for me. While his numbers suggest he is having a solid season 7pts and +5, in games I have seen him out muscled more then ever. It seems almost as if the strongest man on the team is as strong on the ice as in the past. One thing missing has been the level of punishing hits he used to put out. This is the lowest grade for the defense and it is based only on something that I feel is important.
Russell was brought in after the coaching change in exchange for Nikita Nikitin. A lot of fans including me think Hitch had his hands in this deal and it has paid off. Russell has proven his worth to Blues fans by putting up 5 goals and 2 assists on the year and posts a +9. A left handed shot that should be on the PP has been absent as Alex Steen usually mans that blue line with Petro. At first glance on the trade I was not a fan of it. Nikitin had pretty high upside with a bomb of a shot, and more then enough muscle for the big hits I personally crave. However upon further review this trade really was for the best as Kris has played under Hitch’s system, and knowing that the coach wanted him has allowed him to play with more confidence.
IAN COLE: A
It’s no lie I am a huge fan of the often odd man out. It truly is a shame that he has not been sent back down to Peoria for ice time that someone in his position truly needs. I just can not figure out why Hitch does not play him. In 11 games played he has a goal and 3 assists and is a +7. While he does have 8 penalty minutes that alone should not keep him in the press box. What concerns me is Doug Armstrong has publicly said the Blues are still in the market for an experienced defenseman and a lot of fans in the blogosphere have been panicking that Mr. Cole is on the chopping block. I think it would be a mistake for the Blues to let this guy go and I do think the odd man out will be Carlo. If that does happen I suspect Cole to step in at some point.
Kent Huskins: Kent Huskins was brought onto this team for veteran presence to go with Jax. The issue was he fractured a bone in his lower leg and has been out for the past month and a half recovering from the surgery needed to correct the fracture. When he was playing this year, was hands down the most reliable defenseman on the ice. Even more so got the Kent Huskins Cares campaign on the move. In 9 games played he sits at 2 goals and 2 assists with a +6.
Thats it for now, the 3rd and final part of this series is set to drop later this week. Make sure to check out the rest of the site and read a few more articles, remember Kent Huskins Cares. follow us on facebook and twitter @the_hockeyhouse follow me on twitter at @evanhicksKC.