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Tuesdays With Hildy: Small Sample Size Me - Who Is The Best Defenseman Out Of The Gate?

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Apologizes for the lateness. I figured I should go vote during lunch. Come on, everybody - do your civic duty, hold your nose, and push a button - and then complain for the next 2 years (at least). That's what I'll be doing!

With the Blues off to their third best start in franchise history (6-1-2), a good many things have to be firing on all cylinders to get the record that they have. Jaroslav Halak and his 1.71 GAA/.932 SV% is getting a lot of the credit, and rightfully so. He's been lights out. He also faces a league low 25.8 shots a game, so something has got to be happening to give him a tad bit of support. Chances are pretty good when that few shots a game get through, the defense is clicking at a good pace.

Granted, a team's defense is made up of both defensemen and backchecking forwards. We all know who the best backchecker is on the team (there's some sort of weird campaign or something for him), but let's take a look at the guy with their job description right in their job title - the defensemen.

This is broken down by average ToI, not by who I think is the bestest D-man. That is for you guys to duke out in the comments and with the poll.

1. Erik Johnson - average ToI: 21.48

Johnson averages a whopping 27.3 shifts a game, playing top pairing minutes with partner Eric Brewer. His role as an offensive defenseman (he has 22 shots on goal so far this year) balances out Brewer's job as a stay at home guy (Brewer has 10 SOG). Johnson also has one goal and two assists in nine games for three points, so while he's not some offensive juggernaut quite yet, many think that Eej and his shot from the point are getting warmed up. Both of his assists were on powerplay goals, and of course his game winning goal against the Penguins came in overtime. The issue is the fact that he is dead even on the year, which is the one blemish (if you want to call it that so early in the season) on his stats sheet.

2. Eric Brewer - average ToI: 21:12

Brewer is out there quite a bit as the ying to Johnson's yang (or vice versa, or whatever). Like mentioned above, though, he only has 10 shots on goal and no points at all. The upshot is that since Brewer's healthy this year, he looks a lot more comfortable on the ice and hasn't done anything much to earn people's contempt. The real selling point for Brewer is the fact that he is a +3 so far. That might not seem like a lot, but considering the fact that he's been -17 -14, -18, -10, and -17 for the years he's been with the Blues, this is an improvement. He also has gotten 25 penalty minutes called on him, which is amazing considering that it's Eric Brewer.

3. Barret Jackman - average ToI: 20:25

The other elder statesman of the Blues defense, Jackman has molded himself to fit the league's style of play, which is impressive for someone drafted as a defensive defenseman in 1999. Jackman doesn't have any goals yet and only seven shots on net, but he's starting the year at a +4 with two assists.

4. Roman Polak: average ToI: 19:14

The big defenseman has been netting big time numbers for being on the third pairing with Carlo Colaiacovo, but that just speaks to the Blues' depth at defense. All three defensive lines are capable - there isn't a write-off pairing. Polak averages 24.9 shifts a game and, like Johnson is out there on the power play where he's tallied two assists. Also like EJ he's scored an game winning goal, albiet not in overtime. He has eleven shots so far on the year, which is good for fourth out of the Blues seven defensemen.

5. Alex Pietrangelo: average ToI: 18:56

Finally his chance in the big time, Petro is taking full advantage of the chances afforded him by the team. He averages 24.9 shifts a game, and during those shifts he has managed to fire off 19 shots on goal, second on the team. He is also second in points with four assists, and is sporting a very pretty +6 to lead the defensemen and, with David Perron, the team. If statistical well-roundedness is what you look towards to determine the best defenseman on a squad, the youngster is the guy to look to. Picked after Drew Doughty and Zach Bogosian, Pieterangelo has better stats than both of them this year (though has played in more games).

6. Carlo Colaiacovo: average ToI 17:24

Carlo has done very well with having the least time on ice amongst the top six (he averages 22.5 shifts a game). He's hammered off 12 shots on goal, one of which was an overtime game winner. He's also managed four assists and is a +1.

7. Tyson Strachan: average ToI: 9.09

It's really hard to say much about this season's healthy scratch guy except that he's managed two shots on goal with his average of 13 shifts an evening. He's also the team's only defenseman on the negative side of the +/- column at a -1.