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)
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Hitchcock is having ‘fun’ trading barbs with DeBoer

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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?

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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

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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.”

 

 

Hitchcock said changes were coming — will Paajarvi make playoff debut?

Magnus Paajarvi
AP
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Following an ugly 4-0 loss in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock alluded to lineup changes for when the series shifted back to San Jose for Game 3.

“Changing your lineup has a real impact,” Hitchcock said, per the Post-Dispatch. “We’ve made adjustments all playoffs and everyone of them has worked.

“We’re probably going to have to make a few more [Thursday] and hopefully they work.”

So, what are those changes going to be?

Here are Blues beat reporters Jeremy Rutherford and Lou Korac:

Of the two, Paajarvi would be the biggest move. The veteran Swede hasn’t played at all in the playoffs, with his last action coming on Apr. 9, and he finished the year with just three goals and nine points in 48 games.

That said, Hitchcock has been fond of what Paajarvi brings to the table — calling him one of the team’s best players back in late December — and the move could give St. Louis some more speed, which has been an issue against the Sharks.

“They skate fast,” Hitchcock said, also per the Post-Dispatch. “They skate fast, they support the puck. They might look faster than they are, but they’ve got a lot of quick players. They’ve got a lot of aggressive skating players.”

Jaskin has been more involved than Paajarvi this postseason, though only slightly. He appeared in two games during the Dallas series, but did score the game-winning goal in Game 5 of the series.

There’s also the possibility Hitchcock could shake up his defense as well. Roberto Bortuzzo, who hasn’t played since Game 6 of the Dallas series, could draw in ahead of Joel Edmundson, who was out doing extra work following this morning’s skate.

Hitchcock: Blues ‘are fortunate’ series vs. Sharks is 1-1

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This time, the St. Louis Blues didn’t get away with playing an uninspired home game against the San Jose Sharks.

That seems to be the takeaway from Ken Hitchcock after watching the Sharks beat his Blues 4-0 in Game 2 to tie the series 1-1.

“We seem to want to play a little different at home than we do on the road,” Hitchcock said. “We got away with it in Game 1 and didn’t get away with it today at all. They were much better than us probably in every aspect, especially on special teams.”

Hitchcock noted that the Blues “don’t have the foot-speed of other teams” and didn’t feel great about the way St. Louis managed the puck.

He believes they can “clean up” issues on the PK and, in general, “catch up.”

On the other end, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer bragged about a strength that might be on San Jose’s side rather than on the side of the Blues.