Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: Pietrangelo, Letang & Pionk

Rick Roos

2020-02-12

As more and more of the season unfolds there can be a tendency to look at a skater's total points and think that tells the full story about him, when in truth it can be a poor reflection of what he stands to do going forward. To address that, I dig deep to figure out trends and the "story behind the story," letting you know how well (or poorly) a skater is due to perform in the coming weeks.

Specifically, this column is a play on words of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story, except instead of there being three bowls of porridge I'm covering three skaters and declaring one too hot (i.e., doing unsustainably better than he should), another too cold (i.e., doing unsustainably worse), and a third "just right" (i.e., producing where he should be). I also assign each a rating of 1-10, indicating just how hot (rated 7-10, where 10 is the most unsustainably hot), or how cold (rated 1-4, where 1 is the most unsustainably cold), or how "just right" (rated 4-7, where 5.5 is the most "just right") he is.

This time around it's an all defenseman column, as being covered are rearguards Alex Pietrangelo, Kris Letang, and Neal Pionk. Before you read any further, see if your instincts are correct by trying to decide which of these three d-men is too hot, which one is too cold, and who is "just right." After you've made your choices, read the full column to find out if indeed your guesses were correct.

 

Alex Pietrangelo

It's not often a player is poised to shatter his career scoring best in his tenth season at age 30; but that is exactly what Pietrangelo is poised to do, as the three-time 51 to 54 point scorer already has tallied 44 points with more than two dozen games remaining for the Blues. Can we put our faith in Pietrangelo keeping up this pace? As I'll explain more below, the answer is both yes…..and no.

Like other St. Louis skaters, Pietrangelo has thrived since Craig Berube became coach in November 2018, as Pietrangelo posted 34 of his 41 points in the 53 games that Berube coached (for a full season scoring pace that would have been 52 points) versus only seven points in his first 18 games before Berube came on board. Beyond that, last season Pietrangelo's SOG and scoring rates increased from the third to the fourth quarter, and lo and behold his SOG rate continued to climb in Q1 and Q2 of this season, with his scoring rate responding by climbing also this season versus the end of the 2018-19 campaign. A steady climb in SOG and higher scoring tend to go hand in hand, so from that alone we can presume there is at least some legitimacy in his 2019-20 increased scoring rate.

Pietrangelo also is being unleashed on the PP like never before, tak