After the first game back from the All-Star break, St. Louis turned in dismal home performance, falling 5-3 to woeful Winnipeg. Head coach Ken Hitchcock was relieved of his duties a little sooner than expected.
This was Hitchcock's last season anyways, with assistant Mike Yeo hired to be his replacement. St. Louis players were disappointed in themselves for allowing this to occur, especially after reaching the West Conference Finals last spring.
Most sharp bettors watching the NHL odds were taking a cautious approach about the Blues. Instead of staying stuck in neutral, St. Louis exploded and has gone 7-1 under Yeo. (as of 2/17)
The energy level of the Blues is significantly improved and Yeo made a defensive change that impacted the entire team. He discarded the man to man defensive matchups to more zone coverage. This has helped the struggling goaltenders and added another layer of defense and taken away as many good scoring chances for opposing teams. In the Blues past six games, they have three shutouts and they are moving up the conference standings.
Is now the time to jump on St. Louis for NHL picks? It would be silly to say so unequivocally, especially with eight road games out of 10 contests starting in early March, nonetheless, the Blues have restored confidence and passion and look how a coaching change worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.