The Blues haven’t given Ken Hitchcock many things to complain about this year, but the slow starts are beginning to drive Hitchcock crazy. The Blues spotted Anaheim a 3-nothing lead on Saturday night and eventually lost 3-2. The Blues have lost their last two home games, and three of their last four overall. Hitchcock isn’t happy about that.
“We don’t have enough players playing well, and that’s our job. Find a way to get more players to play better hockey,” said Hitchcock. “One of the problems we’re having is that we have the same players playing well night in, night out. We all know who they are. They’re playing exceptional. But we need way more people to play that way if we’re going to win hockey games.”
Hitchcock says he’s especially upset with the way the Blues have been handling the puck in the neutral zone, making sloppy passes that result in offensive chances for the other teams.
“We’re not managing the puck well and it’s allowing the other team to play on their toes. We’re having tentative starts because of that. When you don’t manage the puck well against good teams they burn you, and that’s whats happening.”
Defenseman Barret Jackman says the players know what they have to do to avoid the slow starts, they’ve just been unable to execute early in recent games.
“At the beginning of games we need to find a way to get engaged, whether it’s a hit or a pass, or just talking on the bench to get more life. It’s going to have to start with our leaders and go from there,” said Jackman.
The Blues have a busy week with four games on the road. They’re at Detroit on Monday night, then travel to New York to play the Devils on Tuesday, Rangers on Thursday, and the Islanders on Saturday. The Blues have dominated Eastern Conference competition so far this season. They’re 13-2-and-1 in games against the East. Four more victories this week would help make Hitchcock feel a lot better about the recent play of his team.