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03-07-2013, 04:11 PM
Don't Call Him Alex
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A blogger the other week or two posted that the penalties associated with obstruction were up significantly from last year but the Blues have been whistled for the 6th fewest interference calls and 7th fewest hooking calls. Doesn't really lend a lot of credence to the notion that the tighter officiating standards have hurt the Blues' defensive game. And if anything most of those interference calls that I've observed have been those offensive zone pick plays like the one Reaves got whistled for a game or two ago.

Gap closure is definitely an issue. Teams are gaining the line with possession more often than last year and forcing the Blues defenseman to retreat. That comes from speed which comes from allowing attacking forwards more space than last year which comes from a lack of detail by the backchecking forwards.

And of course the defenseman aren't absolved from the blame as we've talked about with Pietrangelo. He's one of the best puck retrieving, breakout starting defenseman in the league. His over-aggressiveness means he's not the one doing the puck retrieving which means someone inferior is getting the puck. So not only has his risk taking led to more odd-man rushes and worse gap closure but it has also caused the Blues to spend more time in the defensive zone.

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