The finish to the Blues regular season wasn’t just bad, it was historically awful. It’s the first time in Ken Hitchcock’s 17 year coaching career that he’s lost six games in a row. The challenge Hitchcock faces now is restoring confidence in the team as it enters the playoffs playing its worst hockey of the season.
“Yes, that’s going to be a challenge, but that’s why I’m the coach,” said Hitchcock. “That’s my job. It’s a challenge. But one of the best things is time away, and the second best thing is to understand this is a single opponent (Chicago).”
With so many of the Blues’ top scorers on the shelf, the team has scored only five goals in the last six games. That, from a team that spent much of the season with the top ranked offense in the league.
“It’s a mixture of things,” said Alexander Steen. “We got to get inside. A lot of it has been generated on the outside. The power play hasn’t been clicking lately. But we’ve got a few days to re-group and get some bodies back.”
“It’s tough when you’re missing a lot of players with injuries,” said Derek Roy. “We had some tough bounces, but at the end of the day you control your own luck.”
The elephant in the room has been the play of Ryan Miller. The Blues were hoping he was the missing piece that might finally help the franchise win its first Stanley Cup, but Miller continues to struggle. He’s given up 15 goals in the past four games, and his 2.63 goals against average ranks 29th in the league.
“It’s been a tough stretch as far as goals against,” said Miller. “but I feel like I’m in a pretty good place honestly. People can take that and chop it up and laugh about it, but I feel pretty good.”
Hitchcock says the Blues will be light on physical practice this week, to give his players time to heal after an especially brutal final two weeks of regular season play.
“What we need to do is get back living in the fear of Chicago,” said Hitchcock. “Their skill level will get our attention right away. I don’t think either team anticipated this, I don’t think either team loves to play each other, which should make for a hell of a series.”