Jaroslav Halak, Ian Cole

Hitchcock says Halak is healthy and ready to start

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Remember the rumors of there being issues between Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak and coach Ken Hitchcock at the end of last season? There was even talk that it could lead to the goalie being moved this summer.

Turns out all was well with Halak and he’s healthy and ready to get started on a new season as Hitchcock tells Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“He’s a really young guy and you don’t want to have an injury-plagued career. So he wanted take the question marks out of it by having a really high fitness level. He’s done a really good job of finding that fitness level.”

Part of the talk of that discord last season centered around him not getting into games late in the season. As it turned out, he just wasn’t 100 percent healthy.

Even more encouraging for Halak was the talk from Hitchcock how he didn’t lose his starting job because of his play but because of his health. Since there will be three-way competition to play in St. Louis between him, Brian Elliott, and Jake Allen, things are looking up for Halak.

Hitchcock says he’s done his homework on Paajarvi

Ken Hitchcock
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St. Louis dealing David Perron to Edmonton for Magnus Paajarvi left a few people wondering just what the Blues see in the 2009 first-round pick.

Coach Ken Hitchcock, who had his ups and downs with Perron, says he’s done enough homework on Paajarvi to know what kind of player he’s getting. Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat shares the story.

“I have a lot of people personally that knew Paajarvi, both in Sweden and in Edmonton,” Hitchcock said. “I watched all of his games against teams similar to us. I knew how well he played in the last 20 games. … I watched that very closely.

“But I wanted to see how he played against San Jose, LA and ourselves. Those were the games I focused on.”

Over those last 20 games, Paajarvi had four goals and five assists while averaging around 15 minutes per game. Compare that with Perron who had one goal and four assists in his final 20 games with St. Louis and you can see why (via small sample size) the Blues may have made the move.

Related: Evolution and analysis: GMs explain Perron-Paajarvi trade

St. Louis drama: Halak and Hitchcock ended season feuding

Jaroslav Halak
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You may have noticed that Jaroslav Halak wasn’t much of a factor late in the season or the playoffs for the St. Louis Blues. He dealt with a groin injury and was supplanted by Brian Elliott as the starter in the playoffs.

If you thought any of that sat well with Halak, you’d be very wrong.

Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shares a story how he and coach Ken Hitchcock had a heated argument outside the Blues locker room before Game 4 against Los Angeles. Halak was reportedly late for a team meeting and the confrontation was escalated by Halak as he got his frustrations about sitting off his chest.

What was Halak burned up about? Rutherford highlights include:

Rutherford adds Blues personnel may not have been pleased with Halak’s response to not playing including giving less-than full effort in practices and not preparing to play in Game 2 against L.A. when Elliott was shaken up. While he stayed in the game, it’s customary to at least stretch and prep just in case. Halak didn’t do that.

An early playoff exit with added goalie drama ensures the summer will be interesting in St. Louis. For what it’s worth, Halak has one more year left on his contract with a $3.75 million cap hit.

Blues’ coach Hitchcock: ‘We played a hell of a hockey game’

Jackman
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The St. Louis Blues once held a 2-0 series lead over the L.A. Kings, but there has been a drastic turn of events.

The Blues, following a 3-2 overtime loss to the Kings in Game 5, are now one loss away from being eliminated in the first round of these Stanley Cup playoffs.

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock delivered an impassioned post-game talk to the media about his team’s performance and the reality of having to go on the road into L.A. for what is now a must-win Game 6.

His comments were relayed onto Twitter by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jeremy Rutherford, who covers the Blues.

“It was our best effort, collectively, it was our best effort of the year. We played a hell of a hockey game,” said Hitchcock.

“If we play like that, I like our chances. If that’s the effort and that’s the all-in attitude we have, I really like our chances.

“We got a heck of an effort from everybody across the board. We had no passengers today. We had an all-in mentality.”

Blues’ coach Hitchcock says his team ‘unlucky’ in loss to Kings

St Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings - Game Three
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It wasn’t like they didn’t have their opportunities.

The St. Louis Blues, with a chance to put the defending Stanley Cup champions on the brink of elimination in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, needed two goals Saturday to beat the L.A. Kings.

Instead, the Blues got nothing. The result: a 1-0 loss to the Kings, which cuts the Blues’ lead in this best-of-seven series to 2-1.

Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick produced a 30-save shutout after placing much of the blame on himself for L.A.’s first two losses this post-season.

“I thought we were more than anything today unlucky — we were unlucky,” Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“We had a lot of chances, bang-bang plays that went through them out the other side. There are sometimes when the goalie outworks you, he out-battles you, but today, I think were were unlucky.”