Our overall play hasn't been as strong since the all star break, and a big reason we have continued to win is our special teams. Pietrangelo has 15 PP points since the all star break, McDonald coming back got it going, but Pietrangelo now controls the PP. Defensively, what needs to be said?
The great thing is the fact we can make arguments for a lot of players.
I voted for Pie, but a close second would be Backes, Elliot/Halak, and of all people Arnott.
Not being inside the locker room, I don't know who was the major stabalizing factor for this team this year, but I'm assuming that a big part of it came from arnott and langs. But since Arnott has actually been very productive for us offensively as well, I'm throwing him into the mix.
I think it has to be Backes. Hitchcock has stated multiple times how Backes' leadership and buy-in have made the difference in him being able to coach effectively and get the team to do what he's asking.
Thought about voting for "Team Identity" as a write-in even though that would cheat the forced choice nature of the poll, mostly because that's what they've been missing for years and found this season. Then realized voting for Backes amounted to a similar notion without cheating the poll, so voted for Backes as the closest individual substitute for that identity. That said, if both goalies sharing MVP were an option I'd be tempted...
Pietrangelo wins it by a fair amount over Backes, Halak, Elliott and Oshie. Think of The Blues without Pietrangelo, and then without any of the others. There's no contest. The Blues could play with any of the best teams on a given night without any of the others, but NOT without Pietrangelo.
Think of them playing Detroit in Detroit with the following defensive lineup:
Pietrangelo have 50 votes right now, and he also got 50 points so far this season.... the last d-men to get over 50 points for the Blues was ironically A-Pie idol, Chris Pronger with 54 points back in 03-04.
Have to go Petro. Good puck moving d-man who are solid on both sides of the ice are hard to come by and we got two and a couple in the making. We haven't been this dominant since we had pronger and macinnis manning the blueline. Solid defensemen can take you a long way.
I would say it's Pietrangelo quite easily even if you took away all 50 points. Honestly, the points are like, oh yeah, that too. His defense completely stabilizes the team. I often spend significant chunks of the game just watching the guy, seeing how he reads the play and where he positions himself, the decision several seconds before the puck winds up in a spot, and it's just uncanny. When he pinches, he always gets there. When he backs out, it's always the right play. He always knows how to move the puck out of the zone. He reads the play, interrupts the pass, steals the puck, and immediately makes the right call, even when the right play is hesitation of an extra second when someone's bearing down on him because he needs that time for the other pieces on the chessboard to set up correctly. It's like ... it's just an experience to watch him work. He's so much better than every player the Blues have, and the Blues have a lot of good players. But it's so obvious to me why they're so high in the standings this year. He's just made this breakthrough and spends the whole time out there doing things right. Honestly, it's something like one mistake or one slight bit of bad timing for every 100 correct plays.
The points are just an extension of the decisions. His game is all decisions. When he takes a shot, it's because taking that shot was the right decision because the right lane opened up and the right players were in position to be there for a rebound or for a deflection.
He's so competitive. He wants to win. He wants to be the differencemaker in a tight game. When everyone's tired, he senses it and even if he's tired too he has this push. I mean, don't get me wrong, Hitchcock's the right coach at the right time for this team, but no way do they have these results if you take away Alex Pietrangelo.
Guys, we have a second year Lidstrom here. Do you realize the implications of that?