By Lou Korac
When Colton Parayko is shooting the puck like this, it bodes well for the Blues.
Even though they lost 3-2 to the Dallas Stars in overtime on Saturday, seeing No. 55 cocked, locked and loaded ready to unwind those heavy howitzers of his can be an added element the Blues can definitely use.
Parayko scored both Blues goals, giving him four in the past three games after two in his first 46 games.
Often times those that cover the Blues wonder how Parayko has few goals. He came into the game with 33 goals in 370 career games. With that heavy of a shot, one that’s been compared to Al MacInnis because of the heaviness of a shot that can knock any skater off their feet.
Ask Ben Bishop.
“Just got to keep shooting,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of Parayko. “It’s hard to stop if he’s going to. … When Pary’s shooting, it’s not easy to set a screen. When he’s shooting the puck, good things are going to happen.”
Parayko has been accused of not shooting enough, taking too long to fire pucks, being hesitant, you name it. But in scoring in an NHL career-high third straight game, it’s evident Parayko has found himself instinctively letting it rip, and in such a case, blockers beware.
“A little bit in some spots, I think,” Parayko said modestly.
He had eight shot attempts on Saturday, seven against Winnipeg Thursday and five against Carolina the previous game.
Parayko beat Anton Khudobin with a one-timer from the top of the left circle at 7:18 of the first for a 1-0 lead, then walked into another slapper from the high slot and rifled one past Khudobin at 10:49 for a 2-0 lead.
“First one was just a good pass by Dunner,” Parayko said of Vince Dunn. “We’ve just been talking whenever he gets at the top there just to slide it over. Second one was just a good pass by DP [David Perron]. I was kind of all alone and just wanted to step into it. I had enough time to let it rip.
“Overall, I’m just trying to get pucks towards the net. Our forwards are doing a really good job of getting to the net and creating second opportunities. Just keep getting it there for them.”
Pietrangelo has been handling the bulk of the Blues’ scoring from defensemen the majority of the season with 13 goals and 31 assists in 56 games. The other eight defenseman that have at least played one game, including Parayko, Dunn, Justin Faulk, Jay Bouwmeester, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo, Niko Mikkola and Jake Walman, have a combined 67 points (21 goals, 46 assists), which now include Parayko at 18 points (six goals, 12 assists).
There needs to be more balance offensively there from the defenseman aside from Pietrangelo, and if Parayko can become that bonafide weapon, that bodes well.
“He’s shooting it and he’s shooting it quicker,” Blues coach Craig Berube said of Parayko. “That’s his whole mindset, is when he gets it he’s going to blast it. It’s paying off. With his shot, he can beat a goalie.”
Berube was asked if that’s something Parayko’s worked on more so here lately.
“They work on it all the time,” Berube said. “Everybody. It’s just a mindset.”
It’s become more of a mindset with Parayko, and at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds stepping into that hard rubber, imagine it hitting you flush. Imagine how that would hurt. Which makes it more amazing that this is Parayko’s first set of games scoring consecutively, and just his third multigoal game.
He gave himself a chance at a hat trick, which would have been his first in the NHL, but he swooped a puck wide of an open target after Robert Thomas found him in the slot.
“I mean, yeah, it’s a tough one, but great look by ‘Tommer,'” Parayko said. “I just kind of caught it at the last second. He kind of passed it through a couple guys, great look, obviously a great passer so I was ready, but I just kind of caught it at the last second. Just tried to throw it at the net even though I didn’t put it in, I tried to hit a stick or something.”
There will be a simple message for Parayko moving forward, one he’s often heard: keep shooting it.
“Everyone always is kind of talking about shooting and you need to shoot more and stuff like that,” Parayko said. “I don’t know, it’s kind of funny because you don’t really change anything. It’s the same thing, you just keep shooting and sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. That’s the way the game goes. Obviously kind of where we’re at.”
NOTES: The Blues announced before the game that they will retire jersey number 44 in honor of Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger before a game next season. Pronger’s jersey will be eighth retired by the team.
Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports