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Starting goalie, Brouwer pose questions for Blues

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are looking for Stanley Cup Playoff success, and will look to a familiar source.

Citing the styles of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said that playing with pace and speed is the way games are won in the NHL.

"What's happened here in quick order, this League has sped up," Hitchcock said. "This League has pace like never before. ... I think internally, we can really quicken our team and make our pace a lot higher, and we're going to have to, to keep up to where the League's at right now."

Here are three questions facing the Blues entering this season:

How do the Blues carry regular-season success into the playoffs? When the Blues played fast and furious, they were among the top teams in the League.

"We've got to go back to reckless," Hitchcock said. "It's too conservative, it's too careful, it's too much skill ahead of work. We've got to go back to reckless.

"We've got more skill than we've ever had since I've been here, but skill, careful hockey doesn't win. We need to get back to the reckless play we had before, and that's what [general manager] Doug [Armstrong] and I talked about. You can do it and still be responsible. We've got to ask more people to be involved both offensively and defensively."

Will Jake Allen emerge as the No. 1 goalie? Allen, 25, had a solid finish to the regular season after splitting time with Brian Elliott, but went 2-4 against the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round.

Allen signed a two-year, $4.7 million contract July 3. He was 22-7-4 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .913 save percentage last season and is 31-11-4 in two NHL seasons.

"I know that I don't have to be someone that I'm not; just play my game and have the success come through that," Allen said.

Elliott was 26-14-3 with a 2.26 GAA and a .917 save percentage during the regular season and allowed one goal on seven shots in 26 minutes in the playoffs.

What kind of impact will Troy Brouwer have? Brouwer, who scored 46 goals the past two seasons with the Washington Capitals, is a different kind of a player than forward T.J. Oshie, who the Blues traded to acquire him.

Brouwer, an in-your-face, crash-the-net player who can play up or down in the lineup, is expected to complement David Backes and provide grit and strength around the net that the Blues lacked in the playoffs.

"I just think it fits into what I think you need to have success," Armstrong said of Brouwer. "That size (6-foot-3, 213 pounds) is something you can't teach, and the ability to play a heavy game.

"You look at our conference, you have to play with size and you have to play with weight. I think this certainly makes us a more difficult team to play against."

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