The New York Rangers are the latest team to run into the defensive wall constructed by the St. Louis Blues.
“They’re big, they’re strong,” Rangers coach John Tortorella the New York Post after his team fell to the Blues 4-1. “It was a test for us.
The Blues have ample size, especially down the middle with David Backes, Patrik Berglund and Jason Arnott centering the top three lines. Wingers Chris Stewart, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Reaves and Chris Porter are sturdy too.
Rangy Evgeny Grachev is currently the odd man out of the forward line mix and hit man B.J. Crombeen is still working his way back from a broken shoulder.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has hits team using its collective size to full advantage to smother opponents at both ends of the ice.
“The way they play is in the trenches,” Tortorella told the Post. “It’s about battles. They’re a hard team and they beat us at that game.”
The Blues managed to negate the speed of Rangers center Brad Richards, who sat out a stretch of nine minutes as Tortorella shuffled lines and looked for a spark.
“They were better,” Richards told the New York Daily News. “They were hungrier.”