Found November 07, 2011 on Fox Sports:
The inconsistent St. Louis Blues are hoping new coach Ken Hitchcock can use some of his considerable experience to help get them back on track. Judging by their play at home, the Blues might have a chance to do that as they look to get Hitchcock's tenure off to a positive start in the opener of a five-game stretch at the Scottrade Center. St. Louis will try to win its fourth in a row at home Tuesday night when it faces a Chicago Blackhawks team that's coming off its most lopsided defeat of the season. The Blues came into the season optimistic they could make the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09, but a 6-7-0 start has put a damper on those hopes. After dropping three of four following a three-game win streak, St. Louis replaced Davis Payne with Hitchcock on Sunday. The 59-year-old Hitchcock has collected 533 victories over 14 seasons and led Dallas to the Stanley Cup in 1999-2000. "I believe that we have someone who has the experience to help our players maximize their talents," general manager Doug Armstrong said. "I believe if we can do that, we have enough talent that we can have a successful regular season and playoffs." Hitchcock might not have much work to do over the next five contests if St. Louis continues its strong play at Scottrade. The Blues are 3-1-0 at home and topped defending Western Conference champ Vancouver 3-2 in their most recent game there Friday. "We're going to get a great test right off the bat," Hitchcock said. "I think the team has already shown good flashes, but we have to do it over 60 minutes if you want to beat good teams." St. Louis, looking to win four in a row at home for the first time since Dec. 23-31, does need to improve on special teams. The club is last in the NHL at 7.5 percent on the power play and ranks near the bottom of the league at 73.8 percent in penalty killing. A matchup with Chicago (8-3-3) could help St. Louis get on track in both areas. The Blackhawks are 1 for 26 with the man advantage in the last seven games, and they're coming off a nightmarish performance in short-handed situations. Chicago gave up five power-play goals in a 6-2 loss to the Canucks on Sunday. The Blackhawks had allowed opponents to score four times in their previous 38 opportunities. "It was tough watching it. Our execution in both areas was very poor," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Across the board, it was an ugly game. ... It certainly gets your attention." Quenneville's club has won nine of 13 matchups with St. Louis and snapped a three-game road skid in the series with a 5-3 victory Feb. 21. Chicago might get some help as it tries to avoid a third straight defeat. Quenneville told the team's website he expects Duncan Keith to return during the team's two-game trip that concludes Thursday against Columbus. The former Norris Trophy winner has missed the past three games after taking a shot off his left hand during a 5-4 overtime win over Nashville on Oct. 31.
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