At age 22, Alex Pietrangelo is the youngest defenseman in Blues history to cobble together back-to-back seasons of 40 points or more.

Pietrangelo has 11 goals and 32 assists, good for 43 points. While Ottawa's Erik Karlsson led all NHL backliners with 70 points going into Thursday, Pietrangelo had climbed to a tie for third and was one point shy of second in scoring among league defenders.

It is entirely possible he would wind up the team leader in points. Pietrangelo trails forwards David Backes and T. J. Oshie (both with 48 points) by five with 10 games remaining.

"I think he has just relaxed on the ice, offensively," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The game has slowed down for him a little bit. When I first came here, to me, he was nervous offensively. He's a more comfortable offensive player now. He's always had the aspect of being a good defender."

Pietrangelo has 32 points in his last 34 starts, and 18 points in the last 19. He was poised to set a career high with his next point. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound "Petro" had the same total at the end of his first full season in 2010-11, scoring 11 goals and 32 assists.

But Pietrangelo's value is blossoming beyond what he does on the ice. He is emerging as one of the dressing room's most prominent figures, growing in maturity by the day. When Jaden Schwartz arrived from Colorado College on Monday, tired and overwhelmed by it all, Pietrangelo took ownership of the situation. Schwartz is going to live with Pietrangelo in St. Louis.