Hitchcock likes the Blues’ chances for the rest of the series

Hitchcock likes the Blues’ chances for the rest of the series

Credit: UPI

Los Angeles Kings Mike Richards (10) ties up St. Louis Blues Jaden Schwartz in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on May 8, 2013. UPI/Bill Greenblatt




Posted on May 9, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 11:37 AM

(HockeySTL) -- It wasn’t the outcome that the Blues wanted, but it was certainly the effort the team has been searching for. The Blues fell to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime after coming back to tie the game in the last minute. The loud Scottrade Center crowd left stunned and disappointed, but the Blues stood tall.

“It was our best effort, collectively, of the year,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. “We played a hell of a hockey game. If we play like that again, I like our chances.”

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The game’s box score tells the complete story, even if the score doesn’t show it, as the Blues outshot, outhit and outplayed the Kings in Wednesday’s game. The only thing the Blues failed to do was outscore L.A. Typically after a loss, especially one with the dramatics of Wednesday’s game, players are down, the coach is frustrated and the mood is heavy. Yet, despite facing elimination in Game 6, the Blues like the direction they are headed.

It won’t be easy. The Kings have not lost on home ice since March 23, nine consecutive games. But the Blues came close to ending that home-ice win streak in the first two games at Staples Center. The Blues have not won in L.A. this year, but Game 6 would be the perfect time to get their first.

With the team facing elimination, the Blues will throw all they have at L.A. on Friday. Whether or not it will be enough remains to be seen, but as long as the Blues pick up where they left off tonight, Hitchcock doesn’t foresee a problem.

“All we have to do is win one road game and get it back (to home ice),” said Hitchcock. “If that is our effort and our all-in attitude, I like our chances.”

The Blues’ performance on Wednesday was promising for several reasons, but none more so than the team’s overall effort. The Blues have been lacking a whole effort for some time, but have been better in the playoffs. For perhaps the only time thus far in the playoffs, the Blues played a complete game of hockey. Unfortunately, the Blues couldn’t finish in overtime, but are hoping for better results come Friday.

All of the preliminary talk means nothing if the Blues don’t carry over their play on Friday, but the positives appear to be present as the Blues try to stave off an early send-home.

“There are lots of positives: effort, discipline, structure, whatever you want,” said Hitchcock. “The way we played, that is something we have to build on. “We need to come with that mentality in Game 6. This is not over.

There are also some things the Blues need to work on. The Blues have to avoid over-committing in the offensive zone. While scoring goals remains important, the Blues continue to give the Kings quality chances on the rush. Also, in the past two games, a Blues’ forward has been out of position while the Kings have their top guys on the ice. That mistake has cost the Blues twice. However, both of these have to be handled as in-game adjustments. If the Blues iron out those short lapses, there is no reason to doubt them. In fact, had the Blues come out with a win on Wednesday, there would be few negatives to pinpoint.

The team looked good and deserved a win, but oftentimes teams that deserve it don’t necessarily come out ahead. If the Blues can force a Game 7, the odds will turn in their favor. While it may seem like an overwhelming task, remembering how well the Blues have played in this series against the reigning champions is important. The Blues could easily have won the series by now had it not been for a few points of lost focus and a little bit of bad luck.

The Blues, despite the task at hand, believe in themselves. It’s amazing what a little bit of confidence can do for a club, and if Wednesday was any indication, the Blues have a lot of confidence.

“We are still positive,” said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. “We still feel like we have a really good team that can easily skate with L.A. We need to go into L.A. and continue to do the little things that we did tonight and hopefully we are on top in Game 6.”