All except two Stanley Cup Playoff series were finalized last week. The series that stood out to me the most was the St. Louis Blues/Minnesota Wild series.
St. Louis was the central division champs and the Wild were the top Wild card team in the conference. St. Louis was a heavy favourite to win the first round series against the Wild. St. Louis had under achieved in the past three Stanley Cup Playoffs seasons, being ousted in the first round twice and the second round once by lower seeded teams.
I took particular interest in the series as I’m a Minnesota Wild fan. I think that it’s almost a certainty that St. Louis Head Coach Ken Hitchcock’s days in St. Louis are numbered and while some sound hockey minds would disagree with me, I think that it would be the right decision for the Blues to go in a different direction.
My reasoning for believing that Hitch should be fired is mainly due to my observations in this year’s series with the Wild. The Blues came into this playoff season needing to prove that they could win at least one series if not a couple.
Yank the Goalie
I think Hitchcock deserves much of the blame for his team being ousted early, again. After game four, when the Wild took a 3-2 (games) lead in the series (Wild won in St. Louis), Hitchcock should have benched goalie Jake Allen.
Allen had a bad night in game 4 and it became an uphill battle for the Blues at that point in the series. I think that a change behind the pipes was necessary. Other teams had yanked their goalies to give their teams a spark. The Chicago Blackhawks changed their goalies twice to start the next game (after a loss) and it worked like a charm.
Ken Hitchcock needed to do something to spark his team. Instead, Hitchcock didn’t make the move and it really hurt him.
Hitchcock even had the opportunity of yanking Allen after he gave up two brutal and pathetic goals in game six. The Wild had taken an ealry 1-0 lead after Zack Parise scored a goal from a nearly impossible angle. It was a shorthanded goal and it sparked the Wild.
Hitchcock refused to make the move to Brian Elliott and what transpired was a disaster. The wild scored another terrible goal off a Justin Fontaine shot that trickled between Jake Allen’s pads ant into the net. It was one of the worst goals I had ever seen. Hitchcock was forced to pull Allen but the damage was done.
Ken Hitchcock’s lacked of foresight and stubbornness to remove Allen for game five and his inability to make an in game goaltender change in game 6 definitely contributed to his team’s loss on Sunday afternoon.
Not that the Wild didn’t deserve to win. They absolutely did and they outplayed and out hustled the Blues in this series but Hitchcock deserves a lot of the blame from another early exit by his team.
Playing Steve “The goon” Ott
The single worst decision by Ken Hitchcock was going goon style in games one, two and three. Hitchcock went with the dirty player Ott and it was obvious that Hitchcock wanted to run the Wild off the ice by playing a bruising style of hockey. Actually what Ott played, wasn’t hockey. He was an embarrassment to the game of hockey.
The Wild ignored Ott and the other goons who were trying to get under the Wild’s skin and trying to draw penalties. The wild players turned their backs on the goons and skated a way. The Blues were penalized numerous times for their antics.
The plan backfired on the Blues. Instead of playing hockey, the Blues got distracted and had to switch gears midway through the series.
The Blues couldn’t recover from the first three games, while the Wild were able to make changes that were successful. Mike Yeo schooled Ken Hitchcock in the series.
I believe that the mistakes that Ken Hitchcock made were brutal. Hitchcock is a great coach and deserves to be a head coach in the NHL but I think a change in sceneries is due.