When Ken Hitchcock was canned in the disappointing season after the Columbus Blue Jackets made their first (and only) playoff appearance, many attributed the move to the way he clashed with young players, particularly Nikita Filatov and Nik Zherdev. If those two “mercurial” Russians’ fall from grace wasn’t enough to strengthen Hitch’s side of the story, the way he’s handling a youth-laden roster in the St. Louis Blues adds another degree of clarifying hindsight, as this Associated Press story discusses.
During a 1½-year absence from coaching after getting fired by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Hitchcock prepared mentally and physically for what might be his final shot. While scrutinizing rosters and doing his own job of scouting, Hitchcock embraced a workout routine and improved diet habits.
He gets points for trying to better relate to a younger generation and its reliance on social media.
“He didn’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring,” [John] Davidson said. “He made himself a better man, a better coach, so when the opportunity came around he’d be ready.”
Perhaps Hitchcock is a better man and coach, but he came into St. Louis with a pretty impressive resume to begin with. Even if it’s difficult to decide if his struggles to “relate” with guys like Filatov and Zherdev were more myth than reality, that concept drove Hitchcock to embrace a (relatively) kinder and gentler side.
In a way that might just ape the way Tom Coughlin softened up ever-so-slightly to keep his job with the New York Giants (and eventually win two Super Bowls), the “new” Hitchcock is paying off in his new gig – especially with guys who are still pretty new to the NHL.
Things continue to snowball out of control for the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks lost their sixth consecutive game after yet another blowout defeat, this time by a final score of 7-2 versus the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Forward Logan Couture lost a tooth after taking a puck to the face in the second period.
And late in the game, Micheal Haley was given a match penalty for an incident involving Calle Jarnkrok.
The Sharks forward is now automatically suspended until commissioner Gary Bettman reviews the incident.
This incident occurred when Haley was hit into the boards by Jarnkrok. Haley then got up, sped right toward the Predators forward, dropped his gloves and delivered a punch to Jarnkrok as he tried to back away, knocking him to the ice.
Jarnkrok was given a minor penalty for boarding.
Haley was also involved in a fight with Cody McLeod early in the first period.
This has been a particularly shocking, if not embarrassing stretch for the Sharks. In a two-game trip to Dallas and Nashville, against teams below them in the standings, the Sharks were outscored 13-3.
Martin Jones allowed seven goals on 34 shots faced.
If Edmonton wins tonight, the Sharks, Ducks and Oilers will be in a three-way tie for first place in the Pacific Division.
Related: What is wrong with the Sharks?
More bad news for the San Jose Sharks.
After a slow start against the Nashville Predators during Saturday’s game, forward Logan Couture was hurt in the dying seconds of the middle period after taking a puck to the face while battling in front of the net.
Replays show Couture appeared to lose a tooth. He quickly skated off the ice and to the dressing room.
The Boston Bruins have been trending in the wrong direction of late — once again at the worst possible time with the end of the regular season in sight and a playoff spot on the line.
They entered a massive clash with the New York Islanders on Saturday having lost four straight, temporarily falling out of a playoff spot because of fewer games played.
They didn’t have Tuukka Rask in net because of a lower-body injury. They were on the road. They fell behind the Islanders early in the first period.
Despite that, the Bruins quickly came back on a goal from Riley Nash, who scored again in the third period to help his team to a 2-1 victory.
The four-game losing streak? Gone. With seven games remaining, Boston is back in the final wild card spot, two points ahead of the Islanders, who do still have a game in hand.
“We have a great mood in here this morning, everyone’s excited and pretty light and there’s no tense feel,” said Brad Marchand prior to facing the Islanders.
Back-up goaltending has been a concern in Boston this season, however Anton Khudobin shut the door after the Tavares goal, making 18 saves for the win.
The Bruins host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
Last night, we asked: What is wrong with the San Jose Sharks?
Well, a day later, with the Sharks looking to avoid a sixth straight loss, the struggle continues.
After a blowout loss last night against the Dallas Stars, the Sharks have fallen behind the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0 after the opening period.
Colton Sissons opened the scoring for Nashville.
It didn’t get any better for the Sharks.
Roman Josi walked right around Brent Burns, hitting the cross bar with his shot. Cody McLeod was right there for the tap-in to increase Nashville’s lead.