(SportsNetwork.com) – Ken Hitchcock has not been pleased with his club’s start
to the season and he’ll look for his St. Louis Blues to avoid a third straight
defeat on Saturday night in a home matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Coming off a 111-point season — the franchise’s best since 1999-2000 — the
Blues have just two victories through their first six games of this campaign
(2-3-1). They followed up a 3-0 loss in Anaheim with a 4-1 setback to the
visiting Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
Kevin Shattenkirk had the lone goal and Jake Allen made 19 saves in the loss,
one that saw St. Louis score one goal or fewer for the third time in four
That left Hitchcock critical of his team’s start.
“We’re not playing the right way,” said Hitchcock. “We’ve made a heck of a run
here playing the right way; no odd-man rushes, no forced offense, don’t give
the puck away and make hope-for plays offensively. We’ve had a shoot-first
mentality that’s allowed us to be top-five in the league in scoring goals, but
we don’t want to play the right way. We want to play a different game right
now, so until we buy into that, we’re going to have some rough water we’re
going to have to go through, and that’s what we’re in right now.”
Following Allen’s second start of the season, Hitchcock will go back to Brian
Elliott tonight. The netminder is 4-5-1 with a 2.29 goals against average and
.919 save percentage in 11 prior meetings with the Blackhawks, including nine
Unlike the Blues, the Blackhawks have gotten off to a solid start, They
notched a point in each of their first five games (4-0-1) before suffering a
3-2 regulation setback to Nashville on Thursday.
Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw had the goals and Antti Raanta made 24 saves in his
second straight start in place of the injured Corey Crawford (upper body).
Shaw knocked in his own rebound to make it a one-goal game with 7:24 left to
play, but was robbed later in the frame with Raanta pulled for an extra
“I liked the last 20 (minutes). It was our best (period) by a mile,”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We got out of that first period 1-1,
1-0 with that late goal. I didn’t like the goals we gave up in that they were
preventable. They came at us hard and they get their turn in this building,
but you get down by two and you put yourself in a tough spot.”
Crawford was not expected to travel to Nashville or St. Louis, so Raanta is
likely to get the call tonight. He gave up five goals on 25 shots in his only
previous meeting with the Blues, taking a shootout loss on Dec. 28.
The Blues went 3-2-0 versus the Blackhawks last season, winning twice in a
shootout, and have won the past three encounters at home.