Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Tarasenko, Barret Jackman

Hitchcock loving play of line with ‘European creative chemistry’


Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is tickled pink over the play of his all-European line with Vladimir Sobotka, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrik Berglund.

Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shares the coach’s thoughts on his newly formed line that’s having big-time success under the arch.

“We kind of threw stuff against the wall with that line,” Hitchcock said. “We didn’t really know where that would get to. But they have some European creative chemistry that is unique. They play an old way, a way that’s probably not familiar for most people watching the game.”

Each player has been on a tear lately.

Tarasenko has 12 points in his past nine games including four goals. Sobotka has 11 points in that span and Berglund has six points with three goals.

Seeing the two Vlads carrying on the way they have has helped give the Blues a lift in their race with the Blackhawks in the Central Division. Having them step their game up while Alex Steen is out with a concussion makes their production even more timely.

Coaching rivalry: Roy lashes out at Hitchcock in the media

Dallas Stars v Colorado Avalanche

The St. Louis Blues beat their Central Division rivals, the Colorado Avalanche, on Wednesday. Alex Steen tied Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals with 20, in the Blues 4-1 victory over Colorado.

But that was all quickly forgotten about following the post-game comments of Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy, and then the retort of Blues bench boss Ken Hitchcock.

“You know what, I was very mad at the end because I have been jabbed by different coaches around the league, especially Hitchcock when he said that was junior stuff, talking to players, talking to the referees,” said Roy, as per The Denver Post.

“But I saw a guy on the other side who was talking to players and then was also talking to the referee and got the referee (mad).

“Seems to me that there’s different rules for everybody in this league. I guess the old guys are allowed to do whatever they want and I guess us, because we are younger, we are not allowed to say anything. I am a little (mad) about that.”

Hitchcock, with 623 wins as a coach in the NHL, offered quite a response. He wasn’t happy.

“Oh, give me a break. Tell Patrick to shut the (expletive) up,” said Hitchcock.

Just. Like. That. But this isn’t Roy’s first run-in with another NHL coach.

In fact, in the season opener, Roy’s first game as a head coach in this league, got into an altercation with Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks in between the benches.

Hitchcock raves about Blues’ performance vs. Wild

Ken Hitchcock

The St. Louis Blues bottled up the Minnesota Wild in a 3-0 win on NBCSN Monday, prompting raving reviews from head coach Ken Hitchcock, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford reports.

“This was one of the best games we’ve played 5 on 5 for a long time,” Hitchcock said. “We really competed and I thought we created a lot of pressure.”

Vladimir Sobotka opened up scoring while Alexander Steen continues to stay within a stride or two of Alex Ovechkin for the goal-scoring lead (he scored twice to give him 19 on the season). Jaroslav Halak cruised to his second shutout of the season and third win in a row:

Hitchcock ties Martin for 10th in coaching all-time wins list

Head coach Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues leads his team against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on February 20, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Blues 1-0 in overtime.
(February 19, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

The St. Louis Blues have been cruising this season with eight wins in 11 games, including their 4-0 victory against the Florida Panthers on Friday.

Each victory has significance, but this one might stand out to bench boss Ken Hitchcock. That’s because it put him into a tie for 10th place on the all-time wins list among head coaches.

He has won 613 career games to match the mark set by former Blues, Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, and Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. Hitchcock is in a position to rapidly rise up the ranks as Jacques Lemaire holds ninth place with 617 victories and Bryan Murray is eighth overall with 620 wins. The only active coach who is higher on the list than Hitchcock is Joel Quenneville, who ranks sixth with 668.

Since he first ascended to the role of head coach with the Dallas Stars in 1995-96, Hitchcock has also enjoyed stints with the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He won the 1999 Stanley Cup with Dallas. His Blues are legitimate contenders to help him reclaim Lord Stanley’s Mug this season.


No fights, just saves: Bishop, Elliott post shutouts; Lehner stars in loss

TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend

Sidney Crosby Alex Edler Roberto Luongo

Saturday: Vancouver at Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ET)

A solid afternoon affair to get you warmed up for the evening’s action. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have only lost once in seven tries this season; Thursday night, they beat their biggest rivals, the Flyers, by a score of 4-1, thanks in part to another solid performance from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (6-0-0, .932 SV%). Against Vancouver, Fleury could be staring down a top line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler as new head coach John Tortorella continues to experiment with his forward combinations.

Saturday: NY Rangers at New Jersey (7 p.m. ET)

If only to see if the Devils can win a game. So far, all they’ve managed is three shootout/OT losses. Expect Cory Schneider to get the start for the only winless team in the NHL after Martin Brodeur surrendered four goals on 22 shots Thursday in a 5-2 loss in Ottawa. As for the Rangers (who will take on their cross-river rivals minus injured forwards Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin), they’ve still got three road games left before making their season debut at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 28. But hey, at least they got/will get to sleep in their own beds for a few nights following Wednesday’s 2-0 win in Washington that capped a tough, painful-in-many-ways six-game trip.

Saturday: Boston at Tampa Bay (7 p.m. ET)

Atlantic Division foes clash for the second time in 2013-14. The B’s won the first meeting, 3-1, in Boston on Oct. 3. Tampa Bay will no doubt want revenge for that, and the Lightning — with five wins in their last six — have been playing well enough to take it. Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have been providing plenty of offense per usual, with 10 points each in seven games. But just as important to T-Bay’s success has been goalie Ben Bishop, he of the 5-0-0 record and .943 save percentage.

Saturday: Toronto at Chicago (7 p.m. ET)

The toughest test of the season for the 6-2-0 Maple Leafs. We’ve written plenty on Toronto’s struggles to gain consistent puck possession; in the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the Leafs will face a team that loves a good game of keep-away. They may also face an angry team, given the ‘Hawks failed to take revenge on rival St. Louis Thursday night, falling 3-2 in a shootout at the United Center.

Sunday: Dallas at Anaheim (8 p.m. ET)

We already wrote about the red-hot Ducks here, so let’s talk a bit about their opponents. The Stars have had an inconsistent start to the season, but they got a huge 4-3 shootout win Thursday versus previously unbeaten San Jose. Bruins fans may be interested to know that Tyler Seguin leads all Dallas scorers with eight points in six games. The Stars also play Saturday in Los Angeles, so the Ducks (who get Saturday off after hosting the Coyotes Friday) should have the energy advantage in this one.