The St. Louis Blues began the 2011-12 season 6-7-0 and fired their coach. Now they have become the first team to clinch a place in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs -- they assured themselves of a trip to the postseason by beating Tampa Bay 3-1 on Saturday night.
How did the Blues engineer such a remarkable turnaround? Here are a few reasons:
1. Ken Hitchcock found the right team: The Blues proved to be a perfect fit for the style Hitchcock wants his teams to play. There are a lot of guys willing to work, but also enough skill to make the Blues dangerous at the offensive end. Hitchcock might not win the Jack Adams Award, but only because pundits incorrectly pegged Ottawa as a lottery team. He has transformed the Blues into an elite team.