Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
There wasn’t much support anywhere on the ice Tuesday when it came to the Blues, who are now 2-2-1 in their five games away from Scottrade Center this season. They will be in Dallas on Thursday.
Where the fault rested for Tuesday’s futility in New York depended on whom you asked. The players put it on themselves, but the coach credited the Rangers.
“It’s what we do in here,” Blues forward Paul Stastny said. “I think from top to bottom, we weren’t ready to play. Our leaders, my line, we didn’t play together. When we play together, we’re supporting the puck, we’re all playing as a unit of five. When we’re not, one guy is in no-man’s land, the other guy wants the puck, the other guy doesn’t want the puck, and you can’t do that in this league.”
Especially against the Rangers, who were the sole reason for Tuesday’s lopsided outcome according to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
“We weren’t on a different map, we played somebody on the right map,” Hitchcock said. “That’s a hell of a team and they gave us a hell of a lesson. They’re playing great team hockey and they just expose any weakness you have. They’ve done it to us and a few teams now. Real eye-opener for me.”
Game highlights are below...
from Mike Brophy at CBC,
Colton Parayko's potential is limitless.
So says his coach, Ken Hitchcock, who knows a thing or two about developing a stud on the blue-line.
When Hitchcock led the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup in the 1998-99 season, he had 6-foot-5, 225-pound Derien Hatcher leading the charge. As a member of Canada's coaching staff at various international competitions Hitchcock had 6-foot-6, 220-pound Chris Pronger at his disposal. Now, as Hitchcock prepares for retirement in his final season as coach of the St. Louis Blues, he is charged with helping Parayko take his game to the next level.
The 6-foot-5, 226-pound St. Albert, Alta., native was an impact performer with the Blues last season as a rookie, scoring nine goals and 33 points. Not bad for a guy who was passed over in the 2011 NHL draft, only to be picked in the third round (86th) in 2012.
"He hasn't hit his stride offensively yet," Hitchcock said. "He hasn't had the offensive numbers we think he is going to get to, but quite frankly neither have we as a team. We have done it with checking and defence and he's been at the forefront of that. But from a complete player side of things he has had a great start. From his ability to defend to exit pucks to play against top players, he has had a great start."
“This game is the same as four or five games we’ve played already. We’ve played really well, had a lot of good stuff, but don’t finish. I think we’ve got to look at everything right now. I think we’ve got to look at combinations, what’s working, what’s not working, what we need to get more from. Can’t just keep living on scoring chances, you’ve got to finish at the end of the day. I think we’ve got to look at every aspect right now.”
-Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues after a 2-1 shootout loss to Detroit. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has more.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
This is a team, I would humbly opine, that is at an interesting crossroads.
After reaching the Western Conference finals last season and unburdening themselves of some playoff demons in doing so, the Blues finally turned a powerhouse regular season into a spring of substance.
But of interest to me now is where this team goes from here. Are the Blues taking that next step? Or is their window beginning to close? For one, this is Ken Hitchcock's last season behind the St. Louis bench -- with the team making the unusual arrangement that newly hired associate coach Mike Yeo will take over next season.
There's also the transition of leadership with longtime captain David Backes leaving via free agency, as did clutch playoff performer Troy Brouwer. And those departures came a year after star winger T.J. Oshie was traded.
This, more than ever, is now the team of new captain Alex Pietrangelo as well as Alexander Steen, one of the team's alternate captains and respected leaders.
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
So the Blues weren’t on his radar screen. After all, they had played a “heavy” game the previous few seasons while emulating the Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings.
“When the Blues called — they were the first team to call — I was kind of shocked a little bit and happy because I always liked it here,” said Perron, who wore the Note from 2007-2013 before playing in Edmonton, Pittsburgh and Anaheim.
Perron’s return, the hiring of Mike Yeo as coach in waiting and the pursuit of wayward son Vladimir Sobotka were part of the stylistic overhaul general manager Doug Armstrong envisioned for his team.
This shift to a faster tempo sets up a fascinating season as the Blues transition from coach Ken Hitchcock to Yeo, from departed captain David Backes to new captain Alex Pietrangelo and from the steady netminding of Brian Elliott to the aggressive goaltending of Jake Allen.
Veteran hit men Troy Brouwer and Steve Ott are gone, along with the bulldozing Backes. Tenacious forwards Perron, Jaden Schwartz, Robby Fabbri and perhaps Ty Rattie will assume bigger roles.
“I love the way this team plays,” Perron said. “I think I’ve played my best hockey when I play that kind of style.”
(Oct. 4, 2016) – Barret Jackman announced his retirement from the National Hockey League (NHL) today, after signing a one-day contract with the St. Louis Blues. Jackman leaves behind a 14-year career, during which he played in 13 seasons and over 800 games with the Blues.
from Darren Dreger ot The Dreger Report at TSN,
I've covered Hitchcock teams since the 1980s when he had great success coaching the WHL's Kamloops Blazers and have always been impressed by his boundless energy and passion for the game. I, like many others, believed Hitch would have to be dragged from the bench, kicking and screaming, and didn't expect he would leave coaching on his own terms — at least, not yet.
This week, I circled back to check in on the Blues and to see how the 64-year-old coach was managing his final NHL training camp. We chatted about the depth of his team and some of the things he likes and doesn't like about his roster before the conversation inevitably got deeper. My search was for an emotional storyline; to talk about the things he will miss most about coaching in the NHL. Instead, Hitchcock opened the door, just a crack, to the possibility this may not be his final season. While his intention to step away remains the same, he won't know for sure until the end of the season.
“That [coming back] is possible, but that's in May or June and that's a long time off and you know I just don't think at this time...I don't think it's fair to do that,” Hitchcock told the Dreger Report. “I'm going to coach like crazy and I want to see how I feel and if I feel different then I will let somebody know. Other than that, I feel like I want to pour it all in now and then take stock at a different time.
“My vested interest is in coaching and in the coaches and in that fraternity. So for me, that's got to be a major focus until the day comes when I don't have my wits about me. My focus is in those people. It's working with the people who are on the firing line.”
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Blues haven’t confirmed a statement by Vladimir Sobotka’s Russian team that he will report to the Kontinental Hockey League on Wednesday. But they are making plans to move on without the forward, who apparently has failed in his efforts to be released from his contract overseas.
The KHL tweeted a comment from Avangard president Vladimir Shalaev on Tuesday that said Sobotka will honor the final season of his three-year, $12 million contract and not be rejoining the Blues.
“The situation with Sobotka (is) developing exactly as we expected,” Shalaev said in a statement. “In the summer, we talked about the fact that Vladimir — our team player because he has a valid contract with the ‘Vanguard’ for another year. Rumors about leaving Sobotka in the ‘St. Louis’ remained rumors ...”
After the report surfaced on Avangard’s website Tuesday morning, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch that he is “still waiting to hear” definitive word from Sobotka’s camp.
from Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“As a team being able to experience that, we’ve had a core here that’s been here for a while now but we’ve never been able to push through like we did last year,” Kevin Shattenkirk said. “To finally break through like that was again another learning experience, another eye-opening lesson for us to know that it only gets harder each round you go.”
The Blues ran out of gas in the conference final. They appeared exhausted after playing grueling seven-game series against the Blackhawks and Stars.
If they had closed out each series in six games against the Blackhawks and Stars, you have to believe that a different, stronger, faster, fresher Blues team would have eliminated the Sharks in the conference final.
That argument, however, is impossible to prove. Heck, it might even be silly to bring it up. But you definitely have to wonder, don’t you?
Whatever the case, the majority of this Blues roster no longer has to wonder what it takes to push through three grueling rounds to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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