No. 4: St. Louis Blues
“Nasty” is the first word that comes to mind when you talk about the Blues defense. And not just the smell — more so that most of them will put you through a wall, then try to knock the wall on top of you.
But they offer more offensive capability than, say, the guys in Winnipeg. And there are a couple guys who aren’t out trying to detach heads from bodies. St. Louis has a decent balance in place, but some of their guys also aren’t well-rounded enough.
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Alex Pietrangelo is now the captain of this team, a vast improvement over village idiot David Backes. He’s also the team’s best defenseman. His point production has slowly dropped in recent seasons, but only because he’s asked to take on tougher assignments. And he handles them with aplomb, holding a positive puck possession rating last season despite defensively-tilted zone starts.
Kevin Shattenkirk is also solid, though he and team couldn’t decide whether they wanted to remain together earlier this offseason. Shattenkirk is an excellent puck possessor and powerplay quarterback who you don’t want to leave open for a shot. He’s also a fair defender.
Colton Parayko is apparently the truth in St. Louis now. He’s big and can score, but he’s clueless in his own zone. Jay Bouwmeester‘s skills get more and more overshadowed by his age each passing season, as a lot of players can fly by him now. The triumvirate of Robert Bortuzzo, Joel Edmundson and Carl Gunnarsson offers brute strength and occasional offense, but little in the way of defensive instincts.
So the top two on this team is solid, while the rest of the group is capable but with flaws. Feels very Chicago Blackhawks-y from last season, without the unbridled rage (mostly).
Next: Number 3