Bonus points to anyone who picked up the reference in the headline… There aren’t many teams that can match the depth and balance that the Kings have on the blue line, but the St. Louis Blues might be one of those teams. The Kings have their defense lined up exactly how they like it, with three young puck-movers (Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez) paired with three stay-at-home veterans (Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene). The Blues have followed the same type of blueprint, and their underrated defense is a big reason why they allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season.
Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo were both picked high in the 2008 draft, and both teams have carefully built the defenses around a mixture of styles and experience. When it was suggested to Darryl Sutter, in a question, that Mitchell had a particularly strong first-round series against Vancouver, Sutter not surprisingly pushed the discussion toward the Blues…
SUTTER: “We need serious, committed minutes out of our three veteran defensemen. If you look at the series that we’re going into, (there are) three or four awesome young defensemen on their team, so it’s going to be a challenge for our young defensemen. They have (veteran) guys like Barret Jackman and Roman Polak, and guys like Willie Mitchell and Scuderi and Greene are going to have to be as good as those guys. It’s not about the (Vancouver) series. It’s really got nothing to do with last series.
“Pietrangelo is a key guy. Barret is the shut-down guy, the physical guy. I’m not saying it because we’re playing them, but it’s a highly underrated defense. It’s one of the big reasons they’re a successful team. Bringing Kris Russell in, and having Shattenkirk where he is, and Pietrangelo, they’re a big part of their attack. Huge. … They’re mobile kids. I’m surprised they haven’t gotten as much credit as they should. Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo, Polak and the rest of them, the veterans who bring them along. It’s a really good defense.”