Quick Start for Kris Russell in
The Blues are riding a recent wave of success and most credit goes to one of the newest faces in town, Ken Hitchcock. However, it's another extremely new face in town, Kris Russell, that also deserves praise during the team's most recent four games.
Acquired in the deal that sent Nikita Nikitin to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Russell's arrival in St. Louis was mostly lost in the shuffle that immediately followed the head coaching change. Hitchcock figured to be the driving force behind the Blues acquiring Russell as he coached the defenseman during his time with the Blue Jackets.
Now, with the St. Louis Blues, Russell has wasted little time making a name for himself. In his first game with his new team, Russell scored in a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has since added another tally, an impressive finish off a Valdimir Sobotka pass against the Florida Panthers, giving him two goals as a member of the Blues and four on the still young season.
His four goals are good enough to make him the St. Louis defenseman with the most goals scored, edging out Alex Pietrangelo (2 goals) and Kevin Shattenkirk (2 goals).
Russell has been a solid replacement over the struggling Nikitin and has already been a featured players on the team's power play.
That takes care of the recent, now let's look a bit into Russell's past.
He made his NHL debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets back in the 2007-08 season where he skated in 67 games and recorded 10 points. Prior to coming over to the Blues, Russell had skated in 288
games with the Blue Jackets, scoring 18 goals and 61 assists.
However, according to Hitchcock, it's the intangible assets of Russell's game that make him a truly valuable defender. His positioning of both his body and stick on the ice are traits that will never appear in any game recaps but are factors that make Russell a solid player on the ice.
Since his first game, I've been very impressed with what Russell has brought the Blues. Where there were always doubts and concerns about Nikitin, Russell has brought a calm, cool and collected approach to the team's blueline that just screams of confidence.
If Russell can maintain his recent level of play, the Blues defensive unit might be an extremely exciting one to follow as the season progresses.