Familiar Territory for Hitchcock
Ken Hitchcock has been in this situation before.
As the head coach of the Dallas Stars in 1999, he found his team trailing the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals. Hitchcock not only led the Stars to a 4-1 victory on the road in Game 6, but he led them to a Stanley Cup championship several weeks later.
So what wisdom from that experience has Hitchcock shared with the Blues?
“You have to outplay the team. You can’t expect to play at the same level and win the hockey game. It doesn’t happen,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation a number of times and come through, and it’s been the same similar landscape. We have to outplay them today. If we play at the same level, it’s not going to be good enough.
“I know we’re going to get their best push because they don’t want to go back to St. Louis,” Hitchcock said. “But I know we have it in us to outplay them.”
The Blues find themselves in a must-win situation tonight in Game 6 at Staples Center.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, the Blues have lost the last three games to the Kings and need a win tonight to force a Game 7 in St. Louis on Monday.
How does Hitchcock feel about the Blues’ chances?
“For me, the way we played (in Game 5), that’s something we’ve got to build on,” Hitchcock said. “That’s all you can ask for this time of year. You need an all-in mentality and we had that. We need to come with the same mentality for Game 6.”
This series has been incredibly close. Every game has been decided by one goal, and there’s no reason to believe tonight will be much different. The Blues will face a tough test for sure. The Kings haven’t lost at home in nine games dating back to the regular season. But then again, the Blues had won eight consecutive games at Scottrade Center until Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Game 5.
Maybe the Kings are due.
“This is not over,” Hitchcock said after the game Wednesday. “Somebody’s got to win another hockey game and like I said, if we can raise our spirits again and go at it again like we did, I like our chances.”
LOCKER ROOM MOOD
The Blues are playing well and still find themselves trailing the series. Despite that, the mood appeared to be very positive in the locker room today.
“I think it’s good. We have a good energy and we know if we put a full game together, then we give ourselves a good chance. That’s all we can control right now,” Jay Bouwmeester said. “In my experience here, this has been a pretty loose group and a group that plays good when we’re having a little bit of fun. The feeling in here hasn’t changed too much.”
Added Hitchcock, “Yesterday we were angry that we lost (Game 5), but (we're) confident that we can continue to play the way we’ve played.”
- When the Blues have trailed 3-2 in a playoff series, they’ve forced a Game 7 in nine out of 18 attempts.
- The Blues have never lost a series in which they’ve had a 2-0 lead (10-0).
- Vladimir Sobotka has 18 hits in his last two games.
- David Backes enters Game 6 on a two-game point streak.
- Alexander Steen leads the Blues with three goals in this series.
- Including last season’s meeting, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Stewart each have two points against the Kings at Staples Center.
- Tonight’s game airs on FOX Sports Midwest in the St. Louis area and everywhere on DirectTV, AT&T Uverse and Dish. Outside of St. Louis, the game will be available on FOX Sports Midwest Plus. In addition, NBC Sports Network will broadcast the game nationally. To listen on the radio, tune in to Y98 FM.