Yesterday in the Post-Dispatch, Ken Hitchcock tried to play psychoanalyst with the Blues' current situation. There was much talk about conscious play, which insinuates that they are consciously playing out of Hitch's system for whatever reason. That in and of itself raises a myriad of questions.
If you e-subscribe to Game Time the paper (DO IT - gtbradlee at gmail dot com), you may have caught something in Brad Flick's Power Rankings that raises an eyebrow:
Brett Hull, who has experience as a superstar in Hitchcock’s system, told Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday that, "For Stastny and Tarasenko to be successful and do what they want to do, they have to go against the grain of Hitchcock hockey. It’s another thorn they have to go through to be as successful as they can." When someone from your own front office calls the coach’s system a "thorn," that instills a mass of doubt in me.
It certainly raises a myriad of questions. What does the FO really think about Hitch? How much support does he and his system have at the expense of players like Tarasenko and Stastny?
The biggest question it seems to answer, however, is the one regarding why the Blues keep trying to not fit into Hitch's system.
When you have two stars who do well when allowed to play their game being stifled by a coach's system, what message does that send to the rest of the team? "How much better could I be," they may be wondering. Of course, a team full of guys all wondering that makes for disjointed play, sloppy passes, and basically what we've been forced to sit through for the past few weeks.
I would suggest letting their subconscious have a crack at the puck, but I don't know if we want to see 19 ids skating around the ice tonight. Steve Ott's out. Let's leave the team id on the bench.
The Coyotes have been fighting through a bit of a rough patch as well, losing their last four. Scoring hasn't been their problem, discipline has been. If the game on Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Hurricanes is any evidence, they need to watch inopportune penalties. The Coyotes far outpace the Blues in goals a game, with 2.74 versus 2.48. The Blues slowly improving power play should be able to handle the Coyotes' goaltending. Their league GAA sits at 27th, with an .897 GAA between Mike Smith and Anders Lindback.
Smith is in net for the Coyotes tonight, with Jake Allen for the Blues. Allen, let's all keep our fingers crossed, will not be pulled for a third straight home start.
The last three seasons, the Blues have gone 8-0-1 against Arizona. Then again, they also saw extended winning streaks against the Maple Leafs and Panthers handily snapped within the last week, so let's not put too much emphasis on streaks.