Blues now look like they’re ‘dialed in,’ says Hitchcock

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They weren’t happy after a Game 3 shutout loss to the Minnesota Wild. But the St. Louis Blues emphatically bounced back on Wednesday.

The series is now tied 2-2, heading back to St. Louis for Game 5 on Friday. The Blues were dominant against the Wild in Game 4, coming away with a 6-1 victory after a great start in the first period. The offensive outburst might garner most of the attention, especially when Vladimir Tarasenko scores a goal like this and goalie Devan Dubnyk gets chased from the game.

“Our scoring is a direct reflection of our checking. When we check, we score,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, as per NHL.com.

“It looks like we’ve joined the tournament now and we’re dialed in. We’ve got home-ice back, we’re dialed into our game, we’re going to be hard to play against when we’re dialed in this. Not fun to play against.”

The Wild couldn’t regroup after a slow start.

Minnesota cut the St. Louis lead to two goals early in the second period, as Jared Spurgeon converted on the power play, but any momentum gained from that was didn’t last long.

“It didn’t have the feel of the type of game that we were going to come back,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.

“We weren’t on it from the start, and it got worse. Normally, I think we start well but we stay with our game very strongly as far as whether we’re ahead [or] whether we’re behind, and tonight we broke that, that’s for sure.”

Hitchcock becomes fourth coach to win 700 games as Elliott ties Blues shutout record

Ken Hitchcock
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After allowing four goals on 16 shots on Tuesday, Blues goaltender Brian Elliott bounced back in a big way by posting a 28-save shutout in St. Louis 1-0 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

It was Elliott’s fourth shutout of the season and his 20th since joining the Blues in 2011-12. That puts him in a tie with his former goaltending partner Jaroslav Halak for the franchise record.

T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored for St. Louis in the skills competition while Elliott beat Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds.

Elliott’s efforts made head coach Ken Hitchcock the fourth bench boss in NHL history to reach the 700-win mark. It was a particularly appropriate game for him to accomplish that feat as the 63-year-old bench boss coached the Philadelphia Flyers for parts of four seasons. He also was in charge of the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets at various points in his career.

As it happens, all three of the coaches ahead of Hitchcock on the wins list are also former Blues bench bosses. Joel Quenneville (745 wins) leads the Chicago Blackhawks now, but he spent parts of his first eight seasons in charge of the Blues. Scotty Bowman (1,244) got his start with St. Louis too, running the team from the 1967-68 campaign until he was replaced by Al Arbour (782 wins) during the 1970-71 campaign. The four legends have won the Stanley Cup as a head coach a combined 16 times, but never with St. Louis.

Hitchcock hopes to become the first this year.

Hitchcock clears the air regarding the Blues’ goaltending situation

Dallas Stars v St Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues did an excellent job of battling back from a 5-2 third period deficit to earn a single point in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

However, there was some confusion over the Blues’ goaltending situation.

After allowing four goals on 21 shots, Jake Allen was pulled in favor of Brian Elliott. Elliott backstopped the Blues to a 2-1 win on Saturday and was supposed to have the night off.

Elliott allowed one goal on six shots before leaving the game early in the third period.

Allen returned and finished the game.

Elliott appeared agitated when leaving leading some to speculate the goaltender had pulled himself from the game.

Post-game Ken Hitchcock cleared the air.

The Blues’ coach said he pulled Elliott from the game.

“I was thinking, ‘All I’ve gotta do is get him hurt,'” said Hitchcock per Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Hitchcock was then asked if Elliott pulled himself.

“No, that was me,” Hitchcock said. “He was mad he was coming out. I just told him to relax.”

Allen didn’t seem thrilled about going back into the game.

With the point in the loss the Blues move four points back of the Central Division-leading Nashville Predators.

Hitchcock gets win No. 692, tying him for fourth on all-time list

Ken Hitchcock
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The St. Louis Blues held on to beat the Arizona Coyotes by a final score of 2-1, and Ken Hitchcock picked up another milestone victory in his coaching career, moving right alongside Dick Irvin Sr for fourth on the all-time list.

Dmitrij Jaskin scored the winning goal, and the seventh of this season, just past the midway point of the second period. He also had five hits. His backhand off the rush somehow found room and got by Mike Smith, just trickling over the goal line.

“I didn’t see it (go in) until I went behind the net. It was a good surprise to me,” said Jaskin, as per Lou Korac of NHL.com.

 

Coaching milestones: Maurice gets 500th win, Hitchcock ties Quinn

Ken Hitchcock
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Tuesday night was a big one for two veteran coaches.

The Winnipeg Jets crushed the Florida Panthers 8-2 last night to provide bench boss Paul Maurice with his 500th career victory. He’s just the 20th head coach to ever reach that mark and it appropriately happened near the one-year anniversary of him taking over the Jets.

“I’ve been really fortunate,” said Maurice, per the Winnipeg Sun. “Mr. (Peter) Karmanos and Jim Rutherford are the two biggest influences on me, getting an opportunity to coach as young as I did and then staying with me. That’s really where my thoughts are now. An appreciation in the faith and the support and letting me learn in my job, on the job, which you just don’t get to do in the NHL. Those two guys are the reason I’m here at 500 today.

“I feel honored to be in this league that long.”

Since joining the Jets, Maurice has helped transform Winnipeg into a serious contender for a playoff spot. The franchise hasn’t earned a postseason berth since 2007 and Winnipeg hasn’t seen a playoff team since 1996.

There aren’t a lot of active coaches that have been behind the bench longer than Maurice, but St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock is one of them. The 63-year-old coach watched his squad earn a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, which tied Hitchcock with Pat Quinn for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 684.

For Hitchcock, this milestone is particularly significant because it’s Quinn that he tied. Quinn passed away on Nov. 23.

“Obviously we had a great friendship,” Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He was the best manager of people I’ve ever been with in my life. … He was amazing.”

There are some other major coaching milestones coming up. Joel Quenneville is just 16 wins away from becoming the third head coach to ever record 750 victories while Alain Vigneault should also reach the 500-win mark before the season’s over as he’s just nine shy.