by Patrick Hoffman on 01/14/12 at 08:00 PM ET
After the St. Louis Blues stumbled out of the gate, many hockey fans and media alike thought that this was going to be another one of those playoff-less season for the hockey club.
Well, a little more than halfway through the 2011-12 NHL campaign, it appears that those fortunes have changed. The Blues are currently fifth in the Western Conference with a 25-12-6 record and 56 points.
One main reason for the club’s turnaround has been the coaching of Ken Hitchcock. Since taking over the Blues for Davis Payne, Hitchcock has gone 21-11-0-5. “Hitch” has the team playing smart, responsible hockey at both ends of the ice and has his team believing that they can accomplish big things this season.
Secondly, the team has been getting outstanding goaltending from both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. Elliott has been a tremendous surprise for the Blues this season after signing a two-way contract prior to the season starting. Elliott has rewarded the Blues by going 15-5-1 in 22 games with a goals against average of 1.68, a .937 save percentage and 5 shutouts.
Halak, who got off to a slow start this season, has rebounded nicely and has slowly gotten back his form. On the season, Halak is 10-7-5 with a 2.19 GAA, a .914 save percentage and 2 shutouts.
The team has also received balanced scoring this season. Five players have scored over 20 points with team captain David Backes leading the way with 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points.
With the way the Blues are playing now, the months of April, May and may be even June could be an extremely exciting time for the organization and its passionate fans.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.