Ken Hitchcock Says the Blues Swept San Jose During the Regular Season Because They Feared Them: “We Were Scared”

April 11, 2012 – 7:00 am by Brad Gagnon

The St. Louis Blues are coming off their first Central Division title since 1999-2000. But in that year, the Blues were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the San Jose Sharks. Ironically, the Blues once again enter the Stanley Cup playoffs this year as a first-round favorite against the Sharks. And just like last time, St. Louis is coming off a year in which it didn’t lose to San Jose during the regular season.

Back then, it was Ken Hitchcock’s Dallas Stars who took advantage of the Blues’ collapse. With St. Louis out of the way, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed rode all the way to the Cup Final. Now, Hitchcock is in charge of a division champion Blues team, as both he and the franchise look for their first playoff series win in nearly a decade.

Ken Hitchcock joined Kevin Slaten on KFNS in St. Louis to look ahead to the team’s first-round matchup with the Sharks and to discuss the injury to goaltender Brian Elliott and his goalie situation in general. He also touched on how he’s preparing a young team for the playoffs and how they used fear to their advantage in sweeping the season series with the Sharks.

On the upper-body injury that forced Brian Elliott out of Tuesday’s practice:

“You know what? It’s not a big deal. It literally is day-to-day and we’ll just evaluate every day but we just didn’t wanna pound him through. Today (Tuesday) was a long day for everybody at the office and he took the first 40 minutes of the practice and that was enough. We wanted to get Jake (Allen) up here, have a look at him, and get Brian 100 percent for Game 1 so that he’s ready to be one of the two guys.”

On who will start Thursday night:

“I think in fairness to both guys, they both have played well and we wanna see. I mean, obviously if Brian can’t practice (Wednesday) then we’re going with Jaro (Jaroslav Halak) 100 percent. But I don’t wanna do anything until we see what Brian’s health’s at tomorrow.”

On if he’s considering using both guys going forward:

“Well, we’ve got the luxury. One thing about Elliott is, as good as he was — his road record was incredible — so we’ve got that luxury sitting on top of us too. … If we feel like we start a guy and he’s going real well, then obviously we’ll stay with him. And if we feel like we can get more from that position, then we’re not afraid to make a switch. There’s no missing any beats when we change out because both guys respond the right way.”

On if they have to rein in young players excited about the playoffs:

“I think you’ve gotta rein it in a lot. We’ve kind of given them bits and pieces of information that we want, and we’ve done it in very brief form. I think sometimes when you got a young team you can really get an information overload, and I think you can get in a situation where you give them so much information they just freeze right up. Because we’ve got the extra day and we don’t play till Thursday, we’ve been able to dribble it in here a little bit with meetings not being very long, kind of tried to keep it light and loose. We’re letting the event and the emotion of the event take care of that. The big thing for us is just try to stay in routine, and don’t give them a bunch of new drills and don’t give them a bunch of new information.”

On the importance of sticking to the usual routine:

“There’s a reason we won four games (against the Sharks during the regular season). We did a lot of things really good to win four games against them. This is a really good team, and they were poised to win the Cup, that was their thoughts. And we beat them four times, so we must have done something well. And that’s what we want to reinforce with our players. Here’s how we played, we played the same way in all four games, had success. And we’re trying to get our guys to understand how we can carry that forward.

On how fearing the Sharks helped during the regular season:

“We played so good against them, because we did fear them. I think that’s the reason we played well against them — we were scared. Not afraid of them physically, but they got a lot of weapons there. And I think that those weapons really caught our attention, and I think our focus and our attention to detail — at least in the three of the games I coached — was great. And I think that’s what gave us the victory.”

Listen to Ken Hitchcock on KFNS here

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