Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says Flyers stalling tactics were wrong against Tampa Bay Lightning
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock on Saturday came down squarely on the side of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seeming never-ending discussion about the Flyers stalling tactics in Wednesday's game at the St. Pete Times Forum, apparently in protest of Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 defensive scheme.
The Flyers deliberately stalled with the puck several times in their own zone -- a couple of times for as much as 50 seconds -- trying to bring the Lightning out of its defensive posture, mostly to no avail. The media-fueled firestorm that has followed has been top-heavy condemning Tampa Bay for what is perceive as a tactic that creates boring hockey and slows the game.
But Hitchcock, noting the Lightning played with defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman, said playing the 1-3-1 was smart, and that it is the responsibility of the team with the puck to initiate play, not the other way around as Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has claimed.
"The onus is on the guys with the puck to find a way to beat something," Hitchcock said. "It’s not about embarrassing anybody. The reason Tampa is in that setup is that it was missing two very good defensemen who play heavy minutes, real heavy minutes, against top players. So, you protect your defensemen any way you want. You don’t want to be getting bogged down in your own zone, so that’s smart."
Hitchcock said you will not see a stall tactic tonight when the Lightning faces the Blues.
"To me you have to find a way to beat that," he said of the 1-3-1. "It’s kind of why (Tampa Bay) did it. They don’t do it to stall the game down, they do it to protect their defensemen. You’ve got to find a way to get it behind them, that’s my feeling. Our job is to get (the puck) behind them, get into their defensemen and see what we can do. But we’re not going to do that tactic and we’re not interested in that tactic. I just feel the soul obligation is on the team with the puck."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Mathieu Garon will get the start in net. Lightning coach Guy Boucher said that with Dwayne Roloson having played, basically, five straight games (he relieved Garon Nov.6 against the Panthers), it is time for a break. ... Defenseman Victor Hedman (upper body) skated with the team and then had a long, hard workout on his own and might be ready for Monday's game with the Jets. There was some thought Hedman could play tonight, but the player said that is not the case. ... Boucher said left wing Ryan Malone (upper body) might be able to play Monday at Winnipeg. ... Boucher said left wing Ryan Shannon made big strides in his game Wednesday against the Flyers and is better understanding when to use his speed, which Shannon said is his best asset. "That's something I'm trying to be an expert at," Shannon said. ... Defenseman Eric Brewer will play his first game in St. Louis since he was traded to Tampa Bay in February. Brewer said it is no big deal. "I've been traded enough so you get used to it," he said.