CHICAGO -- To stop the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock believes his team must first slow down the Blackhawks.
“Our game is based on making them stop and play,” Hitchcock said prior to Game 6 on Sunday. “Our game is based on that. And when they’re able to play on the move, and they’re able to play on the move with transition, they are as dynamic as anybody in the league or better than anybody in the league. When we make them stop and have to play, we are really good at our game.”
Hitchcock thought the Blues were especially effective at doing just that in Game 3. The Blues didn’t get the outcome they wanted with the Blackhawks winning 2-0, but the Blues limited the Blackhawks’ chances. The Blackhawks had 42 total shots to the Blues’ 70 attempts in the game.
“They had to stop and play and it was a really frustrating game for them,” Hitchcock said. “And we were coming at them in waves. But when they get loose on you, they’re dynamic. If you look at the series or even the last game as a microcosm of the series, the scoring chances at the end of the night are even. That’s not good for us. As many as we’re getting, we can’t give up that many to expect to beat them because it means they’re getting scoring chances.
“I want us to play our game, which has given them real trouble. Our game, when we’re on board with it and we’re able to play it, has really gave them trouble, and their game has given us trouble also.”
Aside from the Blackhawks’ transition game, Hitchcock also understood the Blackhawks would be extra motivated to end the series in Chicago rather than return to St. Louis for Game 7 on Tuesday.
“The battle we’re having is their experience of closing people out,” Hitchcock said. “That’s the battle we’re having because we’re out to get their A-plus game today. They’re not going to want to go back to St. Louis, so we know we’re going to get their A-plus game.
“I told the players last night you can’t get overwhelmed by what’s at stake for both teams, waste any energy on amping up the volume. The volume is already at full blown right now. You just got to play and save your energy for the start of the game. The actual event when you get on the ice will take care of all the energy you need. You just got to stay calm and focused.”