Found February 05, 2012 on Red Light District Hockey:

NASHVILLE – Not too long ago, defensemen that were 22 years old and just breaking into the league weren’t relied upon to be anchors, per se, of a blueline. Times have changed, for the better, in the NHL. One team that has benefitted from the rapid maturation for defensemen is St. Louis, where youngsters Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo are leading the way.

When GM Doug Armstrong acquired Shattenkirk (and Chris Stewart) from Colorado last February in exchange for an underachieving Erik Johnson, they obtained a young blueliner that was drenched with potential. So far this season, Shattenkirk has put that potential on full display due to his speedy maturation.

“I feel a little more confident and poised out there. For me it’s a matter of playing more games and feeling better game in and game out,” said Shattenkirk, who has valued playing alongside veteran Barrett Jackman this season.

“There hasn’t been anything different I’ve done preparation wise, but playing with Jackman has been great for me. He has kind of been my shoulder to lean on and is someone I can talk things through with. Every shift to be able to talk to him and hash things out, it slowly (rubs off on you) and forms you into a better player.”

Shattenkirk, a 2007 first-round pick with Colorado, has seen a spike in playing time in his second full NHL season (21:28 average TOI this year; 19:50 last year). He credits the coaching staff as a big reason why he has fit in well in his first calendar year with the Blues.

“From Day 1 it was an easy transition,” Shattenkirk said. “It was almost like they let me play and felt me out, and coached me from there, which I think was nice. I wasn’t worrying too much about systems or anything like that. I’ve done a lot of work with Brad Shaw. I think he’s done tremendous things with my game.”

The Blues’ one-two punch on defense is indicative of what the Blues’ future has in store. Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo may not be paired together, but they are playing a big role on the Central Division contender.

“(Pietrangelo) comes in as a strong defensive player learning how to play offense, while Shattenkirk is an offensive player learning how to play defense. Both are trying to grow their games and mature, but are coming from different angles,” head coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Shattenkirk, 23, and Pietrangelo, 22, lead the Blues in total ice-time and play in all situations on a defense corps that features established veterans like Jackman, Carlo Colaiacovo and Roman Polak.

“It’s a unique position,” Hitchcock said. “They’re able to work through their mistakes, kind of the way (Ryan) Suter and (Shea) Weber did. I remember when we used to try to take advantage of Suter. Now look at him; he takes advantage of you every shift. I think it’s the same thing as Shatty and Petro. They were players that teams could take advantage of a year ago, but not very much anymore.

“I just find it amazing that players can be in the position that they’re in. Ten years ago you used to be 26, 27, 28 years of age before you were a good defenseman. Now guys are 22 and you’re playing them minimum 20 minutes a night.”

Pietrangelo leads Blues defensemen with 25 points in 50 games, while Shattenkirk is a close second with 23 points. Those numbers aren’t close to leading the league among defensemen, but the young duo brings a lot of offensive ability and potential to the table.

“They are dynamic and what you need in the new NHL,” Blues forward and captain David Backes said. “You can’t just have stay-at-home defensemen that try to shut down the opposition. It’s tough to create anything unless you have those puck-moving defensemen that can also join the play. The two of them, when they’re on the offensive side it’s like having a fourth forward out there.”

At their age, Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo should benefit down the road from being the anchors of a blueline on a young Blues team that believes they can make a lot of noise come playoff time.

“We know what our role is and we know what we have to bring as an offensive aspect to the blueline,” Shattenkirk said of he and Pietrangelo. “Coach Hitch says to us that he wants us to play like we’re 400-game players. He expects that out of us, he expects us to play like mature veterans. That forces us to step up and accept a little more responsibility than a normal younger player would have.”

If the Blues want to continue to rise to an elite level in the Western Conference and NHL, Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo will be vital contributors.

“Normally you expect defensemen to be a little slower developing,” Backes said, “but their first year was good, they’re better this year and their ceilings are endless.”

Photo credit: Getty Images


Blues Forward T.J. Oshie gets taken out by NHL referee (Video)

In the first period of last night's NHL game in St. Louis, Blues forward T.J. Oshie ran straight into the back of one of the referees. Oshie went down so hard that it made the accidental collision look like a blindside hit by the ref. Oshie was chasing the puck and was so focused on it that he couldn't see the referee. Hopefully he'll...

Brian Elliott Gets the Nod in Nets Against the Sens

I'm not going to lie, the only reason why I'm posting this is because I wanted another opportunity to use the image that adorns the top of this piece one more time. Yes, Ken Hitchcock has confirmed that Brian Elliott will get the start tomorrow night against his former team. Discounting his appearance as part of Team Alfredsson during the 2012 All-Star Game weekend, this...

Blues C Arnott dealing with shoulder issue

St. Louis Blues center Jason Arnott left Friday's game against the Los Angeles Kings with a shoulder injury. Arnott was hurt in the third period, although coach Ken Hitchcock said the injury did not appear to be significant. He has 12 goals and 12 assists in 49 games this season. The Blues play at Nashville on Saturday.

The Best Defensive Team

The team with the best goals against in the NHL right now is the St Louis Blues.  They have a low 1.92 goals against average.  This is quite amazing from a team that fired its coach in early November.  It wasn’t that Davis Payne was horribly failing as much as Ken Hitchcock is a top coach who brought in a strong defensive system.  Hitchcock has been a strong reason why the...

Video- Hot Halak

Jaroslav Halak with another shutout, which I believe makes 4 in his last 7 starts, but don’t quote me on that. Some of the beauties from last night. many which included and active left pad.  

Morning Skate: Game 53 vs. St. Louis

7:00 PM CT – Blues (30-13-7) @ Predators (31-17-4)Players to watch:STL- T.J. OshieThe Blues have scored four goals in three games against the Preds this season; Oshie has been in on three of those tallies, including two from him.NSH- Matt Halischuk‘Hally’ is currently on a four-game point streak, playing his best hockey of the season. His 12 goals this year is (a) a career...

Preds 3, Blues 1: Decibel levels chart

How loud did Smashville get tonight? Courtesy of our new decibel meter, you can find out right here...Decibels (dB)Moment108 dBPreds come onto the ice110Martin Erat 1st period goal103Jordin Tootoo hit on Chris Porter109Mike Fisher 1st period goal102Jaroslav Halak save on Fisher97Dierks Bentley vs. Shea Weber video103Brian McGrattan vs. Ryan Reaves fight99TV timeout ovation105Pekka...

It’s time for your Preds and Blues LEFTGOVERS…

Nashville Predators 3, St. Louis Blues 1 Bridgestone Arena; Nashville, Tennessee February 4, 2012 *** LEFTOVER THOUGHTS: * Before we get to our notes on the game, you have to see THIS. Head Coach Barry Trotz was joined at his press conference by his son. What other NHL coach would do that? It was a tremendous moment. Thanks to Preds On The Glass for supplying the video. * Jerred...

NHL roundup: Blues' Jaroslav Halak blanks Kings for 5th shutout

Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots, and Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the second period to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night. Halak notched his fifth shutout this season, 21st of his career. He has four in his past seven starts. St. Louis has an NHL-best 10 shutouts.

Halak, Blues shut down Kings 1-0

ST. LOUIS (AP) A few days in the sun proved to be all St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak needed.

Blues-Predators Preview

Fantastic play at home has rocketed the St. Louis Blues into the upper echelon of the Western Conference standings, but to stay there they'll need to play much better on the road. They've had trouble against the Nashville Predators no matter where the game has taken place. The Blues open a three-game trip Saturday night with a visit to Nashville, where they'll try to...

Blues-Senators Preview

The Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues currently are in the thick of their respective conference's playoff race, though both teams have been struggling of late. The Senators have had it especially rough. Ottawa looks to avoid a seven-game losing streak by earning its sixth straight home victory over St. Louis when the teams meet Tuesday night. The Senators (27-21-7) went...

St. Louis Blues (30-13-7) at Nashville Predators (31-17-4), 8 p.m. (ET)

The St. Louis Blues have an All-Star goaltender who might not even be his club's starter come playoff time.
Blues News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.