A recent rough stretch has St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock
concerned about his team’s collective focus.
After a much-needed road win, the Los Angeles Kings are poised
for more success on their current trip.
The Blues hope to avoid a third straight loss by ending their
recent struggles against the visiting Kings on Thursday night.
St. Louis (17-13-2) is in playoff position, two points behind
sixth-place Los Angeles (18-12-2), but a loser in three of four
since winning five of six. The Blues recorded a season-high 43
shots on goal but had their four-game home winning streak end with
a 3-0 loss to Edmonton on Tuesday.
Afterward, Hitchcock and the team held a lengthy closed-door
“I think it’s going to require a deeper buy-in from the group,
which is what we talked about here with our leaders,” he told the
NHL’s official website. “It’s going to take a deeper buy-in by the
group for us to be successful. I think that’s going to be a
partnership by management, coaches and players. It’s going to have
to be deeper. It’s not deep enough.”
Hitchcock added: “You have the same people, they just want
different pieces of the pie.”
The Blues have been held to two or fewer goals four times in
five games and have totaled two goals in 81 shots in losing their
“A lot of shots in volume, but maybe too many perimeter (shots)
and not enough second and third opportunities,” said Blues forward
David Backes, who scored 55 goals the past two seasons but has
three this year and none in 12 games. “All goalies in the NHL are
good and if you’re not getting those chances, it’s tough to
St. Louis rookie Jake Allen had a 2.09 goals-against average
while winning eight of his first nine starts but has allowed six
goals on 26 shots in his last two. He was pulled after yielding
three on seven shots Tuesday.
The Blues could face a difficult task against Los Angeles, which
scored 10 goals while winning the previous two 2013 meetings.
Including last season’s playoffs, the Kings have won seven straight
over the Blues.
Los Angeles snapped a three-game road skid and two-game goal
drought by opening a five-game trip with a comeback 5-4 win at
Chicago on Monday. The Kings went 150 minutes, 35 seconds without a
goal before Anze Kopitar’s early in the second period. Dustin Brown
capped a two-goal third by converting his own rebound with 1:27
“We kept battling,” said center Tyler Toffoli, who scored his
second goal in his fourth career game. “Pucks started going in.
We’d lost two at home, so we wanted to get the road trip going
well. Now it’s important to carry it into the next game.”
Including the playoffs, Kopitar has three goals and six assists
in five games versus St. Louis.
Jonathan Quick has a 1.04 GAA while winning seven of eight
regular season and playoff contests against the Blues.
Before the Kings shifted their focus on the Blues, the reigning
Stanley Cup champions were honored by President Barack Obama at The
White House on Tuesday.