We have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the NHL’s online services, you agree to these updated documents and to the arbitration of disputes.

Injuries leave Hitchcock's Blues in scramble mode

Wednesday, 02.27.2013 / 6:52 PM
Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer

Two days ago, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock would have said playing the Chicago Blackhawks is the exact challenge his team needs right now.

A statement like that would have had merit too. The Blues have gotten back to playing the type of hockey that was good enough for 109 points last season, the type of hockey that might be good enough to stop the Blackhawks' record-setting streak of 19 consecutive games with a point to start the season.

But then Andy McDonald and Alex Steen were both injured during practice Tuesday and Hitchcock's plan for conquering the challenge he has eagerly anticipated blew up.

McDonald is listed as week-to-week with a knee injury and Steen (shoulder) is day-to-day. The Blues, who are also playing without rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, have recalled Andrew Murray and Adam Cracknell from Peoria of the American Hockey League.

"We're kind of in scramble mode," Hitchcock told NHL.com after practice Wednesday. "The curiosity is we have had to restructure a couple of lines so how do we look? I think we have shown the ability to play pretty well at times, but I'm excited to see if we can do this for 60 minutes and see how it turns out at the end."

Regardless of the lineup, Hitchcock is intrigued by the challenge of trying to be the team to snap the Blackhawks' historic run. He wants to believe the Blues can do it despite the changes up front.

"When you're coming into play them you just know that your A-minus or B-plus game won't work. You're going to have to bring your A game," Hitchcock said. "I really believe when we play our A game we can beat anybody.

"The challenge facing a team like Chicago is who can play the most minutes the right way," he continued. "You're going to have to be confident when you don't have the puck [against Chicago] because you're not going to have the puck as much as you would against other teams.

"It's a fascinating challenge."

However, because of the injuries to McDonald and Steen and the subsequent lineup changes, it's not a challenge that Hitchcock wants to talk too much about. He said he hasn't even brought it up with his team yet.

"I find that overhyping it puts you in trouble," he said. "We'll get ready [Thursday], but we'll leave it to the end. It's going to be an exciting night for us [coaches] and for them [players], but we're waiting to be honest. We have to play the next night, too, so it's more about us. We will talk about Chicago but we won't talk much about them until [Thursday] night. It's about our own game.

"But I just thought it was kind of humorous when I looked and said, 'My God, if they win 10 more games, they get into the playoffs.' That seems awful quick to be in that position, but they've earned it," he added. "This, to me, is the perfect example of winning is a feeling. There are no numbers tied to it. It's just a feeling and when you get on the right side of that feeling it just seems that everything goes your way."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

Back to top