After defeating the Nashville Predators, the St. Louis Blues are 16-0-1 against Central Division opponents this season. They still hold a two-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks as the best team in the Central, and only trail the Anaheim Ducks by a pair of points.
That’s significant because at the moment the Ducks are the top team in the NHL. Heading into the Olympic break, the goal was to catch Chicago and overtake the top spot in the division. Now head coach Ken Hitchcock has his eyes on another prize. The veteran bench boss spoke to the media following the win over Nashville, and Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted Hitchcock:
Our goal was to lead the division at the Olympic break and we did that, and now the goal is to try to win the Presidents’ Trophy. What the heck, that’s important to us. It puts value in what’s left of these (20) games now and we want to take advantage of this. It’s important for our guys.
While the Blues obviously have a larger goal than simply winning the Presidents’ Trophy, that banner does come with some benefits. Such as home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. During a seven-game series, having the last change more often than not can be the difference between winning and losing.
Still, it’s rare to see a coach or player come right out and sat that the trophy is important. The chatter is always about the Stanley Cup, so seeing Hitchcock admit that his players want to be the top team during the regular season is refreshing.