Seeing the water bug Andy McDonald on the ice the past two games got me thinking about his skating ability. And then I tried comparing him to the other guys on the team.
The Blues have some size but also some quickness. They've challenged on icings in the other end, they're getting chances on breakaways shorthanded and they get to loose pucks. But who is the best? I've got some candidates and maybe an opinion or three. To me, these are the top choices.
- T.J. Oshie. The past couple weeks, he will not be denied chasing after dumped in pucks. He digs hard and has been working on the play where he chips it along the boards and then uses his strength and his feet to get around defenders. He drives when he strides and is very strong on the puck. His skating is noticeable if he's playing a good shift.
- McDonald. He's small and has a low center of gravity which makes him shifty. He can find space on the ice and jump to it. For pure speed, he might be the fastest. He's getting older, he's had a broken leg not that many seasons ago. There's the two concussions in less than a year thing. He might be the most graceful skater.
- David Perron. They call him Mr. Dangles for a reason: he can dangle the puck on this stick, make a move and score. He does a lot of his work in close to the net. You have to skate hard and be able to carry the puck to do that. He might be one of the most natural looking players on the Blues. His enthusiasm shows he's spent his life on the ice and he loves hockey. He skates like it too.
- Patrik Berglund. Sure he holds onto the puck too much and when he cycles it, man, he cycles it. By himself, in huge circles along the boards -- down low, up high, it doesn't matter. For pure strength on his feet, he's probably the Blues player hardest to knock off the puck. Is he fast, does he look agile? Not compared to these smaller guys. But what he can do on his feet is noteworthy and maddening when he doesn't translate it to consistent scoring opportunities.
- Roman Polak. We need a defenseman on the list. John Kelly on the Blues broadcasts has said in recent seasons that he thinks that Polak might be the fastest player on the team and that other guys could skate forwards and Polak could beat them skating backwards. I don't think that's true, but watch him the next time there's a puck coming back for icing. He doesn't get beat very often. I would not call him a graceful or agile skater. Few defensemen are.
That's my list. Vote in the poll and give your reason in the comments. If you vote other, tell who it is. My guess is that Vladimir Sobotka, David Backes and Alex Steen will get some attention, among other honorable mentions. Vote for whomever you'd like, just make the case in the comments.