Pietrangelo Steps Up: Three Takeaways from the Blues’ Hot Start

The St. Louis Blues got a win in Brooklyn on Monday, defeating the New York Islanders, 3-2 in a shootout, moving to 3-0 for only the fifth time in Blues history.

With that, three takeaways from this hot start:

1: Alex Pietrangelo continues to take his game to another level.

Yes, Vladmir Tarasenko was the player of the game Monday, with two goals and the shootout winner, but we have to give credit to Pietrangelo.

The Captain leads NHL defensemen with 5 points on the season, 2 goals and 3 assists, including 2 points on the power-play. Adding to that, Petro now has 23 points in 23 regular season games, including 10 power-play points, dating back to last year’s trade of Kevin Shattenkirk.

So, while Shatty may be offended that the Blues and other teams don’t look at him as a top line defenseman, Pietrangelo is proving why he is a top line d-man and why the team opted to pay him and put the C on his sweater.

Pietrangelo loves playing in the more free system Mike Yeo provides for defensemen. Under Yeo, Petro has 8 goals 20 assist for 28 points and a +10 rating in 33 regular season games. Under Ken Hitchcock last year, Petro scored 8 goals 17 assist for 25 points and a -5 in 50 games.

Some say the captain was one of the players that jumped off the Hitch bandwagon and with the way he’s played since the coach’s departure, there’s a good bit of evidence to support that thought.

One criticism many have had of Petro was his lack of media savviness, but since getting the C, he’s taken the next step as a leader, standing in the locker room win or lose to answer the tough questions.

Kudos to you Alex Pietrangelo.

2: Special Teams have been key for the Note.

The Blues went six for six in killing power-plays Monday, scoring on the power-play for the third straight game.

The team’s power-play is succeeding at a 25% clip, higher than the Buffalo Sabres’ power-play from last season, which featured a league-best 24.6% success rate.

Vladimir Tarasenko has been the most encouraging development on the power-play. He seems to have taken the Blues’ biggest criticism of him, that he needs to shoot more and have a killer’s instinct with the man-advantage, to heart.

Tarasenko is finding his spot on the ice, firing away on the power-play and scoring two goals with the man-advantage in three games after only scoring nine goals all of last season.

As Bernie Miklasz has noted many times, coming into this season Tarasenko had 10 more regular season even-strength goals than any other player since the start of the 2014-2015 season.

Imagine if he continues to bring this prowess to the Power-Play. Wow.

Meanwhile, this team has it figured out on the penalty kill as well.

Since Mike Yeo took over as head coach on Feb. 2, the Blues have killed 92 of 104 penalties. Their 88.5% PK ranks 1st in the NHL in that span. It all starts with the best penalty killer on the Blues, net minder Jake Allen, who’s picked up right where he left off under Yeo.

3: The National Hockey League is stupid.

12 penalties called in a game between two teams that see each other twice a season? That can’t be right.

This wasn’t a chippy contest or a game where the refs were trying to keep things under control by throwing players in the box. Monday’s game was simply a product of the NHL and their new rules including the awful slashing rule.

Somehow, the NHL thinks it’s a good idea to have the refs call a penalty every time a player touches an opposing player with his stick. Maybe they’re trying to produce offense, but the rule is confusing fans, new and old.

Anyone watching a game early in this 2017-2018 season looks at their television with their head cocked to the side trying to figure out what Gary Bettman has done to their beloved game.

Psstt…what lures fans to hockey is the fast pace and nonstop action from end to end, not confusing rules that no one, not even the refs, can explain.

Which brings me to another point… Is the NHL serious about this new rule that penalizes a team for NOT successfully challenging an off-sides call?

Could you imagine if, in the NFL, Pete Carroll was penalized 10 yards for an unsuccessful challenge? He’d be whining even more on the sidelines.

These moves from the NHL are bizarre. If you want to penalize coaches and teams for an unsuccessful challenge, take away their timeouts.

What a revelation.