Blues Stay Hot, Beat Vancouver for Sixth Straight Win
Sometimes a mid season coaching change pays off. A stuck in a rut team can become invigorated and play up to its potential with a change of leadership and coaching philosophy. A case in point would be the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last season, the Penguins replaced Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan on December 12th of ’15, and the team went on to win the Stanley Cup. This season, the St. Louis Blues decided to do the same thing.
The team’s record was 24-21-5 after losing to Winnipeg on January 31st, and the next day the Blues made a coaching change. Coach Ken Hitchcock had previously announced that he would be retiring after the season, and the Blues had hired former Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo in the off season to serve as an assistant this year and take over as head coach next year. The Blues decided to move that timetable up and fired Hitchcock on February 1st, elevating Yeo to the top spot.
The Blues won their first game under Yeo, a 5-1 victory over Toronto, then lost to Pittsburgh. St. Louis then went on a five game road trip and won every game, including three shutouts. It was the first five game road sweep in team history. Returning home, the Blues played the Vancouver Canucks and won 4-3 behind a pair of third period power play goals for the team’s sixth straight win.
With 67 points, the Blues held down third place in the NHL Central behind Minnesota (82) and Chicago (75). The three teams are basically matching each other at this point; the Wild are 7-2-1 and the Blackhawks and Blues are 7-3 in their last ten games. In terms of the Western Conference, St. Louis is in sixth place, but just three points behind Anaheim and Edmonton. St. Louis hits the road again for a game at Buffalo on February 18th, followed by a home game against Florida on the 20th. St. Louis will then play nine of 12 on the road, beginning February 26th at Chicago.