Silencing the NHL's biggest stars is just part of the job for the St. Louis Blues' top checker.
Besides confounding the likes of Pavel Bure and Peter Forsberg, Craig Conroy also has turned into an offensive force. Conroy had the game-winner that finished off the Blues' first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Kings and took 10 shots in the series.
Not bad for a player who's been so dedicated to containing the opposition he's a top candidate for the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive center. Conroy had 14 goals and 43 points in his second full season, but considered it all gravy.
Finishing second on the team behind league-leading Chris Pronger with a plus-20 was a prouder accomplishment. During the regular season, the Blues' CPA line of Conroy, Scott Pellerin and Blair Atcheynum blanked the Vancouver line that featured Bure and Mark Messier twice and also shut out the likes of Detroit's Steve Yzerman, Washington's Adam Oates and Dallas' Mike Modano.
His next assignment probably will be to shadow Sergei Fedorov when the Blues and Red Wings begin their second-round series Friday night in Detroit.
"The best thing for us to do it keep the puck in their zone," Conroy said. "If we get a chance, that's great.
"If we're in there for 40 seconds and we change, then they change, too, because they're chasing us around and they're getting tired."
The Kings' top scorers, Jozef Stumpel and Luc Robitaille, each were limited to a goal and two assists in the first round by the Blues' checkers, which also included Darren Turcotte.
"Maybe they had four or five chances throughout the series," Conroy said. "That's not bad."
The second round will be more of a challenge.
"The Kings had two solid lines and the Red Wings have four solid lines," Pellerin said. "Our team plays so well positionally, we're just going to have to be aware of what they have."
Conroy's energy level is a big factor in his game, allowing him to virtually cling to his opposing number. Off the ice he's forever bubbly, whether it's talking about his game, his Fu Manchu playoff beard or his days off.
"In class, the teacher was probably like `Just sit still, relax, take it easy,' " Conroy said. "I've always been excited about playing and I've always had a lot of energy."
Conroy said his 2-year-old daughter, Taylor, is the same.
"I can't keep up to her already," Conroy said. "I have gates everywhere to try to keep her locked in.
"I called mom and said I felt bad for her because it was the same with me."
He said a long-retired NFL star quarterback was his facial-hair inspiration.
"It's like Joe Namath," Conroy said. "He won, so maybe I can do the same."
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