Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Seeking Magic Number; Notebook; Hitchcock Wants Higher Power Play, PK Rates

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Seeking Magic Number; Notebook; Hitchcock Wants Higher Power Play, PK Rates

Article excerpt

NEW YORK * The number, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says, is 105.

That's the number that Hitchcock wants his team's power play and penalty killing percentages to add up to. Going into Monday night's game with the Rangers, the Blues' power play was at 20.5 percent, ninth best in the NHL, after the first 10 games. The penalty killing unit was at 75.7, the 24th best in the league.

The placements aren't as important to Hitchcock as what they add up to. It's 96.2, which is well below where he wants his special teams to be.

"We're not close," Hitchcock said. "We had a good series of meetings in the last 24 hours in picking up both ends of special teams. For us to move forward, we can't rely on our good five-on- five play. We need help from our special teams. I don't care which way we get to 105, but our number is not near high enough. We need more investment in killing penalties and more continuity on the power play."

The power play was at 19.7 percent last year, so that unit is ahead of last season. The Blues' penalty killing, however, was at 85.6 percent last season, so they've got a lot of catching up to do. Colorado scored both its goals Saturday night on the power play.

"We just have to stay aggressive, that's the way we play," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "That's our penalty kill, it's all based off of pressure. So when one goal goes in, the next one we're just a little too tentative. Just have to stay on it. We kind of sat back after that and it was almost like we didn't want to make mistakes. When you do that, you wind up making them anyway."

"It seems like the first minute is pretty darn good and then one breakdown and teams are making us pay for it," center David Backes said. "It's a full 120 seconds worth of kill and we've got to finish that off and have a great shift right after that. Our job is not done thinking we've got them a little bit frustrated after the first half of it."

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo noted that the team started slow on the PK last season before turning into one of the top units in the league. …

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