Impressive defensive pairings are noteworthy. Colton Parayko and Marco Scandella are headliners. The newest addition to the St. Louis Blues can’t fill Jay Bouwmeester’s skates, nor would he want to. The fact is, they play a similar style, which is what general manager Doug Armstrong was counting on. The new pair has six points combined in the three games they’ve played together thus far.
Home Debut for Scandella
Scandella logged 19:24 on the ice, was a plus-1 and a valuable asset on the penalty kill in his first game as a Blue against the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 20. The chemistry between 6-foot-6, 230 pound Parayko and him (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) was almost instant. The pair kept the puck out of the zone and helped hold the Coyotes to just 14 shots on goal.
“Playing with Parayko, I mean it’s pretty easy out with him. He talks a lot, big moving defenseman, puck-moving defenseman. I felt like we were building that chemistry tonight, talking a lot on the ice,” Scandella said following the game. “He’s really big and he moves really well too. He’s talking out there too, so I felt like we read well off each other. We have to just keep building that chemistry.”
Parayko racked up seven shots on goal and assisted on the only goal from Ryan O’Reilly to earn the third star of the game. Although Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta stood on his head making 45 saves, the Blues defense was the key to the uneven statistics.
On the Road vs. the Dallas Stars
The Blues traveled to Dallas to take on the Stars the following night (Feb. 21). Captain Alex Pietrangelo was out with the flu, which gave Scandella more time on the ice. He was a plus-3 with one shot on goal and significant time on the penalty kill.
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Parayko was the workhorse for the game with 23:06 time on ice and almost equal time on the power play and penalty kill units. He scored a goal and assisted on two others, earning him a plus-2 and first star of the 5-1 win.
“[Parayko’s] got a great shot. When he’s skating and shooting like that, he’s a dangerous player.”Coach Craig Berube said after the game.
Blues vs. Wild in Minnesota
Scandella played seven seasons with the Wild so his return in a division rival Blues sweater was intense, to say the least. He logged the most ice time and notched an assist on Jordan Kyrou’s goal. He was a plus-1 in the game and played the most time on the penalty kill.
“[Scandella’s] a great guy. He’s fitting in very well,” goalie Jordan Binnington said following the 4-1 win. “I like his game out there. He plays hard and I look forward to having more success with him.”
Parayko got the other assist on the Kyrou goal and had three blocks to keep the Wild out of the zone. He excelled on the power play and penalty kill units. His play with Scandella hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Quite honestly, this is what we expected when we got [Scandella]. Very good partner for Parayko. We saw last night his offense a little bit and he can jump into the attack, he can skate and got a good shot,” Armstrong said after the trade deadline (Feb. 24). “Early returns are positive and hopefully he continues to play like that with Colton.”
What to Expect from this Pair?
The club finishes out the month at the Enterprise Center against division rivals Chicago Blackhawks and Stars with the Eastern Conference New York Islanders sandwiched in between.
The Blackhawks are struggling, sitting last in the Central Division while the Islanders are just six points behind the Blues. The Stars matchup will be a playoff-type game as both teams continue to battle for the top of the Western Conference.
With such a tight-knit group, a new guy in the locker room could’ve thrown off the balance. Not in this case. Marco Scandella has settled in quickly and his rapport with Parayko is quite astounding. The Blues’ new defensive pairing is just getting started.