Hitch Keeping Blues Focused as Team Looks for Points

The Blues were clearly having some fun in practice Monday. Coming off the heels of an impressive 6-1 Saturday win over the struggling Maple Leafs, the team hopes to stack more points in three games at Scottrade this week. The first test comes Tuesday against a hungry Jets team currently in the seventh playoff spot.

Following Monday’s practice, players talked about the recent 3-1-1 road stretch and how they can build momentum moving into the season’s final weeks. Similar to the Cardinals’ “happy flights” home in recent years, winger Paul Stastny said the team’s mood after a decent roadtrip can help breed winning.

brian elliott
Blues goaltender Brian Elliott anticipates more pushback from teams vying for a playoff spot.

“Any team can beat you in this league whether they’re on or off so it’s important when you get a win, especially on the road, to build on it. You enjoy it more, you enjoy the flight back home more, and hopefully build on that going into a couple division games coming up,” Stastny said.

“It was good to get on the road there for a while and hopefully while we’re back home for three we can capitalize because we’ll be right back out for six after that,” Stastny added.

Goaltender Brian Elliott talked about the importance of being sharp, especially after the win against a Leafs club near the bottom of the conference.

“I think we have to realize as a team that we pushed Toronto and they didn’t really ever push back,” Elliott said. “The teams that we’re going to be playing now are going to have a lot of push-back.”

“We know we’re going to get a big push from these teams that are trying to solidify a playoff spot.”

Ken Hitchcock
Hitchcock stresses the importance of keeping the Blues focused on the game in front of them.

Following Tuesday’s game with the Jets, the note will get a home rematch with the Flyers Thursday, then a Saturday meeting at Scottrade with Minnesota, who sit at fifth place in the West. Coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters he’s taking games as they come, to the point where he has to check who the next opponent is.

“All we focus on is one day at a time. And it’s a well-used term, but it is exactly what this time of the year is about,” Hitchcock said. “I had to look at the schedule because I forgot who we were playing on Saturday. That’s how narrow our focus is right now. I didn’t know the order. I knew we were playing Winnipeg, (Minnesota), and Philly, but I had no idea where we were starting our road trip after that.”

“I think if we (the coaches) keep our focus narrow then the players will do the same thing,” Hitchcock added.

Hitchcock’s thoughts will hopefully ring true for the note, who face a stretch ahead of nine games in 15 days, with the final six being on the road.

“We’ve got to grow our game back. We’ve got to put details back in it. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the road or at home,” Hitchcock said. “This is one of the toughest spots of the schedule for us…It’s going to be a very difficult challenge so we need to keep our focus as narrow as we can.”

Audio: Melrose Says No Excuses for Blues to Struggle This Postseason