ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

9 Comments

The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

Hitchcock only says that Backes, Fabbri will warm up for Game 5

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 25: David Backes #42 and Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues skate after the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on November 25, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
Getty

ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will decide on the status of injured players after the pre-game skate before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

Captain David Backes and rookie Robby Fabbri, both forwards, were injured in Game 4. Backes missed the final two periods and Fabbri had just two shifts in the third period of a 6-3 victory that knotted the series at 2-2.

Hitchcock said he’ll have the same number of players dressed for the warmup as in Game 4, when he had two extra forwards and one extra defenseman on the ice.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer indicated he’d have no lineup changes.

Hitchcock is having ‘fun’ trading barbs with DeBoer

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty
4 Comments

For St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, talking smack sure beats talking x’s and o’s.

He admitted that he’s really enjoying the give-and-take that he’s undergoing with San Jose Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer.

“The answer, do I enjoy it, is yes,” Hitchcock said. “Quite frankly, what you guys report, it’s really boring. We got to have some fun, too. I find it fun.”

The veteran head coach admits that he enjoys sending the media on a “wild-goose chase,” especially if it takes heat off of his players.

(Ah yes, it always comes back to strategy for Hitch.)

He repeatedly said that it’s fun … and you know what? It really is. (He also points out that he coached with DeBoer, though the Sharks coach doesn’t believe that it was much more than a “learning experience.”)

Now we really just need the two coaches to start barking at each other over the glass to really drive the point home.

Granted, DeBoer may not feel the same joy for the trash talk.

For more on their back-and-forth, check out this post.

Has the Sharks-Blues series created a DeBoer vs. Hitchcock rivalry?

8 Comments

The Western Conference Final between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues has produced some verbal sparring between the coaches Pete DeBoer and Ken Hitchcock.

Throughout this series, tied two games apiece, there have been some interesting comments made from both bench bosses directed at the other.

Example No. 1:

“What we’re relying on is the officials to do their job,” said DeBoer following Game 1. “St. Louis is one of the most penalized teams in the league, regular season and playoffs. (Referees) need to call the game accordingly and we need to make them pay a price for being one of the most penalized teams in the league.”

Hitchcock responded: “We were told not to whine for calls, so we’re not going to whine for calls. If Pete wants to do it, that’s up to him, but we’re not doing it.”

Example No. 2:

Following the Blues’ win in Game 4 on Saturday, Hitchcock spoke about his decision to go with Jake Allen over Brian Elliott in goal, a move that paid off because Allen stopped 31 shots and St. Louis scored six goals for the victory.

“We needed somebody to really help us play better defense. We played with more passion in front of him in our own zone because I made the goalie change,” Hitchcock told reporters.

Asked about any possible adjustments the Blues may have made to their forecheck, DeBoer’s response essentially concluded his media availability.

“I’m sure Hitch will tell you he made all kinds of great adjustments, and every one of them worked tonight. Hats off to him.”

Example No. 3:

DeBoer was, on Sunday, asked a handful of questions about Hitchcock and their experience together coaching for Canada at the 2011 world hockey championship.

DeBoer didn’t get into specifics but did say it was a “great learning experience” working alongside Hitchcock in that tournament. But when asked if the two had any relationship today, the Sharks coach was quick with his answer.

“Who has a relationship in the Stanley Cup semifinals?”

Oh. It’s so on, obviously…

Hitchcock says Backes and Fabbri ‘should be good to go’ for Game 5

10 Comments

The St. Louis Blues won Game 4 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday night, but it certainly came at a price. Both David Backes and Robby Fabbri were unable to finish the game.

Fabbri suffered an undisclosed injury after he was hit by Sharks forward Tommy Wingels. The Blues forward didn’t see much ice time in the third period, but that might just be because the Blues had control of the game.

Here’s the hit that sidelined Fabbri:

As for Backes, it’s unclear when he got hurt. The St. Louis Dispatch points out that the injury could have occurred after he made contact with Brent Burns, or it could have happened when he lost an edge while in the corner. The Blues captain was on the bench for the entire game, but he didn’t see the ice in the second and third frames.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t want to get into specifics when it came to each player’s ailment, but he did mention that they should both be available in Game 5.

“We’ll let you know in a couple of days on both guys,” Hitchcock said after Game 4. “They should be good to go.”