Ken Hitchcock loves to play the match-ups. It’s who he is as a coach. And there is nothing wrong with that. His track record of success speaks for itself.
The match-ups were critical in the Chicago series. It’s maybe the central reason Vladimir Tarasenko was seeing his ice time hovering around the 16 minute mark for the series.
“It’s not as dynamic as the series before,” explained Hitchcock on Tuesday morning. “You had a line that obviously had a dynamic that not many teams could play against,” referring to talents of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Certainly the stars on the Stars aren’t chopped liver by any means. Hitchcock has praised the teams explosiveness and depth for days, but the gameplan for this series may just be that there is no gameplan.
“You start up with an idea, I think we abandoned it in both games probably halfway through the first period and just played,” said Hitchcock. “I think what this series is going to be, everybody just playing their players and just more focused on themselves.
At the end of the day, do we see the rest of this series as an up and down the ice affair like the Pens and Caps? Maybe, but probably not. Brian Elliot could be the difference in whether or not there are few more 5-4 or 4-3 games left in the tank. But if it’s going to game of simply skill and toughness, the Blues just might have an edge the rest of the way.
“We don’t have to do anything special. We don’t have to do anything outside the box,” explained Kevin Shattenkirk. “This is a team over there that has a lot of offensive talent, they geared that way, their team plays that way. But if we can establish our forechecking game, our hard-hitting game, and grind them down. That’s how we protect the house.”
It’s the physical that returned in spades for the Blues in game 2, and is the hallmark for this team’s success. A repeat of that physical performance could mean a Blues 2-1 series lead come late Tuesday night.