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Today's turn goes to reader Paul Jacoby.
How can you not like Ken Hitchcock? He's matter-of-fact, intelligent and fun to listen to. But he has to be the root problem with the Blues.
A team can't be so successful in the regular season right up to the playoffs including two great late season wins over the Hawks and not look at the leadership and his decision making.
It starts with his decision to stay with Allen after his first soft goal in game 5 that tied the score in the 1st period. A change to Elliott right then might've motivated and steadied the team. In game 6 everyone but Hitchcock knew Allen was toast after the bad 1st goal. It was embarrassing and confusing to listen to Hitch just before Allen let in the softest goal I've seen in years. Hitchcock had stated all year we had 2 great goalies and would go with the hot hand but choked in games 5 & 6 when others ("Q" of the Hawks) made timely changes.
There can be little doubt that our defensive make-up was skittish and notable lacked any firepower on point shots after Shattenkirk and Pietro. Having Lindbohm, Bortuzzo and Butler would've given us much better chances on getting shots through and maybe make our forwards have a chance to score and look better than they did. This was probably the biggest problem with our team against Minnesota. And no would argue that those three would've added a lot more grit which surely would have given everyone more confidence.
My thoughts about up front are more subtle. Didn't Hitch say Jokinen was added to have a top 9 forward in case of injuries? So when Lehtera gets hurt what happens? We get Ott moved up to a prominent position instead. I like Steve Ott for about an every other game on the 4th line and no more but he was featured MUCH more with little positive results. Porter showed he should've been playing from the onset and I'm not sure the Wolves Cracknell (who was a force when he played in the past) and Paajarvi (great speed) shouldn't have been in the mix.
The core of Backes, Oshie, Steen, Berglund, Jackman and Bouwmeester have to share some blame and maybe there needs to and probably will be a change among them but Hitchcock and his decisions at the top still seem to be the biggest problem with the Blues moving forward.