This is the next in a series of stories ranking the 24 most important players on the 2011-12 St. Louis Blues.
No. 16 Carlo Colaiacovo
In Toronto, Carlo Colaiacovo was nicknamed Splodybones for his propensity to suffer injuries often. Either the water in St. Louis is better than Toronto's supply or maybe Colaiacovo is drinking a lot of milk or sleeping in an iron lung or he's made friends with a European cyclist. I don't know. But look at his games played after becoming an NHL player and see if you can pinpoint when he moved to St. Louis:
That's a startling change for Colaiacovo. His ability to play more games and more minutes has made him more valuable for the Blues...but not that valuable. Last season he averaged just above 18 minutes of ice time a game. Pretty good, but not really top-four defenseman territory. For instance, he doesn't kill penalties. Literally, he doesn't do it. Over his 65 games, he averaged 18 seconds a night playing shorthanded.
He did average 2:45 per game on the power play. That's not too shabby. Of course he only scored one goal with the man advantage (six overall on the season). He did add 20 assists to the scoring sheet. And he also does a decent job of staying out of the penalty box, an underrated skill.
Along with playing more, Colaiacovo has done more to contribute offensively. His three seasons in St. Louis he's totaled 71 points. In Toronto he scored 32 points. On the other side of the ledger, he does make some odd decisions with the puck. He was seventh on the Blues last year with 21 giveaways. Aggressive offensive defenseman will do that. But those turnovers in the neutral zone for this team end up in the net far too often. They turn the tide.
Colaiacovo turns 29 in January. The prime of his career is now. He needs to demonstrate better focus on the ice and play better with and without the puck. Defense is in the name of his position even if he doesn't do much of it. It's tough to earn ice time and contribute if the coach can't trust you to help keep the puck out of your own net.
Winning teams need defensemen like Colaiacovo to keep the offense ticking when the other guys hit a rough patch. But winning teams also need guys who aren't nonchalant with the puck some times. It's not a bad thing to be ranked in the teens. It's called depth. And the Blues haven't had it in recent years.
I'd say more, but there's not a lot left to either criticize or praise about his game. Therefore, No. 16.