Hitchcock: Blues must play smarter in Game 5 - KMOV.com

Hitchcock: Blues must play smarter in Game 5

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(Hockey StL) --  Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was not too pleased with his team’s defense in Game 4 in Los Angeles.  In fact, the decisions that were made while protecting their early 2-0 lead left a lot to be desired.

“Our whole team was guilty of that.  That was the major issue of the hockey game,” Hitchcock said following the Blues skate this morning at the Scottrade Center.  “We gave up too many odd man rushes because we were forcing offense.  We’ve got both defensemen racing up the ice five feet away from the forwards.  That’s not how we play.  We don’t pinch on same side quick ups.  We don’t pinch like that.  But we pinch four times, got caught three times and twice for goals.”

The decision making was very surprising given how smart the team had played for the first few games of this series.  The Blues seemed to be reacting to the difference in flow since Games 1-3 were all low scoring.  Protecting a two goal lead is not something they had to worry about much of this postseason.

“We turned the puck over in both the offensive zone and the defensive zone and especially the neutral zone,” Patrik Berglund said.  “That’s not how we’re built.  We were feeding them the offense so it’s tough to win when you play like that.”

Playing more patient and not forcing that offense is going to be a key adjustment in tonight’s pivotal Game 5.  The Kings - the defending Stanley Cup champions - know first hand what it takes to win a series such as this and never panicked when they were down two games. 

The Kings took this series to another level back in Los Angeles.  It’s up to the Blues to match it now.

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