There’s no question as to which NHL team has made the most dramatic turnaround over the past 12 months (or even four months). A year ago, the Blues were on their way to finishing in 11th place in the Western Conference. In early November, after a 6-7-0 start, the Blues fired coach Davis Payne and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. How has that worked out? The Blues are 40-13-8 under Hitchcock, already have a 100-point season, have clinched a playoff spot and are in the driver’s seat for the President’s Trophy. How have the Blues done it? With oustanding play in goal, an underrated defense and a balanced group of forwards. David Backes leads St. Louis with 22 goals, and the Blues have five other players who have scored between 15 to 18 goals this season. That aspect of the Blues seems to be what impresses Darryl Sutter the most.
SUTTER: “It doesn’t matter who is out there (because) they all play the same way. With their depth, they can pretty much throw four lines, whoever they want, at you. They’ve had the luxury, this year, of having two goalies that are right on top of it, so they can rotate them. We like to think that our work ethic is similar to theirs, so it comes down to the individual stuff then.’’
The Blues are coming off a loss at Anaheim last night, but Sutter shrugged off any suggestion that the Kings might be able to benefit against a team playing in a back-to-back situation…
SUTTER: “I don’t think Anaheim (to) L.A. is really back to back. I can drive to Anaheim just as quick as I can drive to Staples Center. It really doesn’t have any bearing on anything. We approached our game in Anaheim last week like it was a home game.’’