A quick glance at the St. Louis Blues roster shows everything a team typically needs to make a deep run at the Stanley Cup.
Ken Hitchcock's savvy behind the bench could prove to be invaluable for a young Blues team looking to make a Stanley Cup run. (Photo: Getty Images)
There is depth among their forwards and defensemen, and a strong balance between tough pluggers who can make plays along the boards and world-class skill players who can score. There also is a goaltender, Brian Elliott, who has been practically unbeatable through April.
But the Blues' greatest advantage heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs could very well be the man behind the bench. One Blues player, forward Andy McDonald, has won a Stanley Cup, and defenseman Jordan Leopold, obtained at the NHL Trade Deadline, is the other player to skate in a Stanley Cup Final. This is where Ken Hitchcock's 1999 Cup win with the Dallas Stars could prove invaluable.
Since taking over the Blues early in the 2011-12 season, Hitchcock has transformed the club into one of the toughest opponents in the League. Last season, the Blues were very difficult to play against, riding hot goaltending, stifling defense and offensive depth in steamrolling the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That all came apart in the second round -- against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. But the experience the team gained in that run -- complemented by some of the adversity it's had to deal with this season -- has made the Blues stronger.