The St. Louis Blues’ long-standing top defensive pair will be broken up for Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
For the first time this season and one of the few times since they’ve been united as a defensive pair, St. Louis Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester won’t start Thursday’s game together. Pietrangelo will play with Joel Edmundson, who he was briefly paired with last season as Bouwmeester dealt with an injury. Bouwmeester, meanwhile, will start the game with Colton Parayko, who he played with at times during the 2015-16 preseason.
Pietrangelo and Bouweester have shown the ability to go up against opponents’ top lines and play extended minutes on special teams more than any other defenseman on the Blues’ roster, so they generally get the benefit of the doubt. Neither has had a fantastic season statistically, though.
Despite some impressive offensive production (five goals and 10 assists), Pietrangelo’s minus-9 rating is worst among the team’s defensemen.
More from Arch Authority
- St. Louis Cardinals: Randal Grichuk to begin Double-A rehab stint
- John Brebbia deserves a shot as the St. Louis Cardinals’ closer
- St. Louis Cardinals place Randal Grichuk on DL, recall José Martínez
- St. Louis Cardinals release RHP Corey Baker from organization
- St. Louis Cardinals activate Kolten Wong and Kevin Siegrist from DL, option Luke Weaver and Alex Mejia to Triple-A
For the third straight season, Bouwmeester has been a nearly nonexistent offensive force–he’s got just one goal and five assists through 30 games–and he has a minus-6 rating.
It should be interesting to see how the minutes are divided among the defensive pairings on Thursday night. The Blues’ best pairing lately has actually been that of Brad Hunt and Kevin Shattenkirk, two undersized and offensively-focused blueliners who seem to have developed some strong chemistry together. Parayko has arguably been the Blues’ most stable defenseman in his own zone, so it seems conceivable that his and Bouwmeester’s pairing could rival the minutes of Pietrangelo and Edmundson.
That’s assuming, of course, that the pairings stick together for the entire game. Often, when coach Ken Hitchcock has broken up long-standing lines or pairings, such as Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester or the “STL line”, he’s quickly opted to go back to basics mid-game.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford wrote Thursday, Hitchcock’s primary goal with the new pairings was to emphasize on-ice communication. If he feels that the goal has been accomplished, perhaps he’ll quickly go back to the pairings that best enable the Blues to compete against other teams’ top lines.