The Blues 4-3 shootout victory over Winnipeg on Saturday put St. Louis at the top of the standings in the NHL’s Central division. The Blues and Chicago Blackhawks both have 84 points at the Olympic break, but the Blues have played three fewer games than the Hawks.
“I think everybody is excited,” said Hitchcock. “It’s been a very difficult challenge for the players to maintain a hard focus. They deserve a lot of credit. Every time they got pushed and shoved they answered the bell.”
The Blues record of 39-12-6 is one of the best marks in franchise history. Hitchcock isn’t satisfied though. He thinks the Blues can be even better in the final 25 games of the regular season.
“Everybody knows we have a whole other gear we have to play at, and can play at. But just to get points every night is pretty important right now.”
The Blues will have nine players involved in the Winter Olympic tournament. The rest of the team will get almost three weeks of rest before the schedule resumes on February 26th in Vancouver. Hitchcock wants his players to come back and be ready to play their best hockey of the season.
“I told the players when they come back, March and April is for them. They have to really grab it. We’ve played awfully well. We’ve been really resilient all year. We’ve responded to challenges all year. But it’s going to really get dialed up when we come back.”