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St. Louis Blues: Looks Like We Made It

After a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, the St. Louis Blues have become the first team to clinch a playoff berth with 100 points, which means it’s officially speculation time. Let’s venture out into some of the potential first round match ups the boys in blue may face.

Phoenix Coyotes (Currently in 7th)

I’m really not sure where I stand on a Blues/Yotes match up. As a child, I owned one of the crazy coyote jerseys. But this is not the team of my past. This will be the second straight year the Coyotes have joined the playoffs, losing to the Red Wings twice in quarterfinals. While they have scored more goals this season (191), the strength of goaltending on the Blues end will be huge. Plus, it’ll be fun to see what BizNasty says about our boys.

Colorado Avalanche (Currently in 8th)

Colorado could be a fun match up. To refresh your memory, the Blues and Avs made a monumental 2am trade before the deadline, sending Eric Johnson and Jay McClement to Denver for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. How’d that work you ask? Well, EJ has 4 goals and 20 assists against Shatty’s 9 goals and 28 assists. McClement (10 G, 6A) and Stewie (15 G, 13 A) have made a difference in the line up as well. Aside from the personal issues these teams have, we’ve got another goaltending mismatch, as Colorado’s net minders have allowed an additional 53 goals this season.

San Jose Sharks (Currently in 9th)

Please god, anyone but the Sharks. We’ve seen what Joe Thorton can do to this team, but this could end up being a repeat of the 1999-2000 season when the President’s Trophy-winning Blues were upset in the first round. The Sharks play an aggressive style of hockey that matches well with St. Louis. Their road record is barely above .500, but I never doubt their desire to win come playoff time.

Los Angeles Kings (Currently in 10th)

This could be the goaltending match old-time hockey fans long for. The Blues are the only team to have allowed less goals this season (158), and it’s clear that the mask is not the only thing that rocks about Jonathan Quick. Playoffs could bring along an outburst of goals from Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, along with leadership from Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. Plus, I like the idea of a ’67 expansion playoff.

Who do you want to see the Blues match up with? While you think, give this tune by Brookroyal a listen.

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sports

Another one bites the dust.

To much surprise last night, Ken Hitchcock was named the 24th coach in St. Louis Blues history – the 4th in the past 6 seasons – to “relieve” Davis Payne of his duties for the 6-7, 13th place team. Let’s discuss that word – relieve.

According to Merriam Webster, “relieve,” a transit verb, means a : to free from a burden : give aid or help to b : to set free from an obligation, condition, or restriction. With the way this team has played since January 2010 when Payne took over, a “relief” is just what it is – for Payne, that is.

“It’s shocking and it’s disappointing, but in the end, you’re responsible for all the areas of your hockey team,” Payne said. “There were pieces that weren’t firing on all cylinders and it’s under my umbrella of responsibility. But I also can say that we were looking at a favorable schedule ahead and ready to turn the corner.

“That said, if this is what gets things going, then I’m all for it. I wish nothing but the best for the team and this group of guys. They deserve it.”

via No Jackets required: Ken Hitchcock hired by Blues, Payne fired – Puck Daddy – NHL Blog – Yahoo! Sports.

However, is it really his fault? The blues “relieved” Andy Murray back in January 2010 when I was writing for Inside Hockey magazine. I broke the news for MSN. From the first presser, Davidson summed up the mistakes Murray made quite clearly.

“If a kid is not practicing hard or making redundant mistakes over and over again, then maybe he deserves to sit on his butt,” he said. “But if a kid’s making mistake out of passion or out of try and has worked his butt off at practice, stick him back on the ice and let him play.”

So here we are, almost two years later, with Davis Payne being “relieved” for a similar reason – the lack of young player development. Does anyone else find it odd that two good coaches could not help the development of this team over four years?

As I’ve said before, “Coach” is another term for “Scapegoat.” Sure, he creates the lines and earns the respect and trust of his players, however he isn’t the one out there missing practice or shooting goals in his own net.

Do I agree that we needed a change? Of course. This team is built to win, however they just can’t get it together. Do I think Payne is 100 percent to blame? Not at all. Accountability has hurt this team since the lock-out, and until that changes, the Blues won’t.

I do believe that Hitchcock will be a nice switch, however his coaching style is quite similar to Andy Murray, and while that will benefit our new veteran leadership, I’m not sure how the young guys will take it. In a perfect world, they will adapt well and quickly. With a five-game home stand, there is no better time for Hitchcock to take the rains and go. Let’s just hope the team is behind him, 100 percent.