by PuckStopsHere on 02/04/12 at 02:57 PM ET
The team with the best goals against in the NHL right now is the St Louis Blues. They have a low 1.92 goals against average. This is quite amazing from a team that fired its coach in early November. It wasn’t that Davis Payne was horribly failing as much as Ken Hitchcock is a top coach who brought in a strong defensive system. Hitchcock has been a strong reason why the blues have been a top team so far this season. His effect on the Blues is an example of the maximal effect a coach can have on his team. Rarely does a coach make this big a difference. One wonders where the Columbus Blue Jackets would be if they had hired him as was rumored when the Blues hired him.
The biggest strength of the St Louis Blues is goaltending. Brian Elliott is having an outstanding comeback season. He is posting a .938 saves percentage and a 1.69 GAA. Jaroslav Halak has recovered from a slow start and he is posting a .921 saves percentage and a 1.96 GAA. This is one of the best goaltending pairs in the NHL.
Their defence lacks any superstars, but is quite solid. Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Barret Jackman provide a strong core. Pietrangelo has potential to one day be their defensive star. Their forward unit is very defensively responsible. It is led by captain David Backes, who is a Selke Trophy candidate.
The St Louis Blues defence has improved by about 0.8 goals per game from last year. The biggest reason is an improved defensive system under coach Ken Hitchcock. Goaltending has also improved with the addition of Brian Elliott. Young defencemen like Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk are also taking a step forward. St Louis looks like a team on the rise with their strong defence. They should be hard to stop in the playoffs.
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