Machines

Hochman: “These guys are machines.” How the Blues’ Faulk and Parayko continue to impact this series | Benjamin Hochmann

Last time it happened in Blues history, Robert Thomas was 9 months old, that is.

It was April 21, 2000. Game 5 against San Jose. The Blues had two defensemen, in a playoff game without overtime, playing 30 minutes each (per Hockey-Reference.com).

Well, in Game 4 of the current Wild-Blues series, Thomas’ teammates Justin Faulk and Colton Parayko pulled off the feat with their sore feet. It was reminiscent, for one night, of Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis in 2000, when the Blues basically had a future Hall of Famer on ‘D’ at all times in the 5-3 win.

Against the Wild on Sunday at the Enterprise Center, the Blues drew every second of energy from Faulk and Parayko. Only the referees and the Blues logo have spent more time on the ice. These two ice warriors emboldened a beleaguered blue line, if you consider, incredibly, the Blues were left without four regular starting defensemen for the majority of the game.

People also read…

  • Editorial: Alito’s Draft Ruling Is So Contradictory It Calls the Court’s Judgment into Question
  • Steve Goedeker says his former company ransacked his superstore
  • AT&T Tower in St. Louis sells for $4.1 million, a fraction of its previous sale
  • Yeah, yeah, Yepez: Rookie delivers ninth-inning tie-breaking brace, propels Cardinals to 3-2 victory
  • ‘Not good for St. Louis’: Air Force proposes to cut Boeing St. Louis F-15EX line
  • Grand jurors call St. Louis Circuit prosecutor’s conduct ‘reprehensible’
  • With a ‘different look’ in the lineup, O’Neill’s bat makes noise on the eve of arbitration hearing with Cardinals
  • Boeing to move headquarters to Arlington, Virginia
  • Gordo: Shipping DeJong to Memphis would be a drastic measure
  • Mother, wife, lawyer: Erin Hawley calls fight to overthrow Roe ‘the project of a lifetime’
  • Affidavit: At least $300,000 seized from St. Louis apartment of Cure Violence worker
  • Bally Sports Midwest Live Stream Will Cost $16-$20 Per Month
  • Four dead, three children in critical condition after an accident on Delmar Boulevard in Saint-Louis
  • ‘You can’t replace that’: St. Louis area’s last kosher grocery store goes up for auction
  • Arenado stakes Wainwright; Cardinals ace knocks out Royals on a seven-inning hit

In the 5-2 win, which tied the series in two games, goaltender Jordan Binnington was the star of the game, center Ryan O’Reilly was the soul of the game, while Faulk and Parayko were the heart. However, “heart” implies that they are human; “These guys,” Binnington said, “are machines.”

So can they start over?

Yes, but they might not need it. Nick Leddy and Robert Bortuzzo skated Monday and could be defensive options — and reliable defensive options if they can return from injury — in Tuesday’s Game 5 at Minnesota. But Faulk and Parayko proved in Game 4 that they could dictate a game with their will and their will – it was almost as if each was trying to match the other’s greatness, shift by shift. Numbers 72 and 55 will need to play just as effectively on Tuesday, as you know the Wild will adjust offensively after an embarrassing Game 4, 5-2 loss.

“They just did a great job containing their best players,” Blues coach Craig Berube said, “and did a great job out there getting the pucks out and whatever you want them to do. “

Even if Leddy and Bortuzzo can play, I think the Blues should go with seven defensemen (and just 11 forwards, like they did in Game 4). Calle Rosen, who played with surprising efficiency in Game 4, would be available on ‘D’. Same thing with Niko Mikkola, who was not afraid to use his body. Then you would have Scott Perunovich, who can confidently quarterback on the power play.

And in every game of this series, the Blues have seen a defender get injured or re-injured. The seventh defender would be a safety blanket.

And it’s not like the Blues need a 12th striker in this configuration. Consider that in Game 4, the fourth line only played seven shifts (4:49 of ice time). Just like St. Louis did in Game 4, a skater from one of the front three can join Tyler Bozak and Alexei Toropchenko when needed.

As for Faulk and Parayko, their efforts in this series have been all over the place. Perfect, no. Parayko struggled at Minnesota earlier in this round. And both guys have been on the ice for a share of the Wild’s goals. But they have had an impact on apparently the majority of shifts. Both areas too.

Sometimes it’s about discreetly neutralizing an opposing player. Other times it’s a more visible check. And offensively, Faulk is third in shots for the Blues (11) and Parayko (nine) is tied for fourth with Vladimir Tarasenko, Pavel Buchnevich and Brandon Saad. It may be a problem that Faulk has more shots than Tarasenko and Buchnevich, but maybe that will play out as the streak goes on.

And Faulk and Parayko carry the puck through the neutral zone like their famous Blues predecessors.

Faulk, you might not know, is actually one of the fastest players on the roster. And when the 6-foot-6 Parayko accelerates out of his zone, past a cross and center ice, it looks like a college player going head-to-head with the freshmen. Just over four minutes into Game 4, Parayko’s long strides throughout led to a good scoring opportunity for Kyrou and the Blues.

“And Parayko, the first baseman, he’s on the forecheck,” Berube said Monday, before the team traveled to Minnesota. “He does it deep and he stays on the forecheck and Buchnevich makes a play at Kyrou and we score. …

“They both often carry the puck out of our zone, which is good, and get up on the ice, create an offense and things like that. … So obviously they are very valuable players and they log a lot of minutes.

As for filling in the minutes and pairing up all the defensive players, Berube said assistant Mike Van Ryn makes the infield calls.

“We’ll talk or he’ll tell me something about a guy – should we put him in this situation or that situation – but he’s just getting by normally,” Berube said of former defender Van Ryn, who made his career in the National Hockey League. debut in October 2000, as teammates with Pronger and MacInnis. “He’s doing a good job and it’s not an easy situation — seven ‘Ds’ and giving everyone the ice time they need. Maybe he overplayed some guys at times, but it’s playoff time. So that’s what it is.

“With Perunovich you try to put him in as many attacking situations as possible because that’s where his strengths lie. … There were times when you had to mix and match shorthanded “D” pairs. Sometimes you have two right-handers with Parayko and Faulk together, or just Mikkola, but every game is different. And each game will show you a different situation. And it’s also who goes (to play) and who doesn’t.

We won’t know who won’t be in Game 5 until the Blues hit the ice on Tuesday. But we know two who leave… and continue.