January 6, 2012
Peckham has history with Stewart
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
ST. LOUIS - The battles between Theo Peckham and Chris Stewart go back a ways.
Long before the two were pounding on each other in the NHL, they were waging war in the Ontario minor hockey system.
“We are from the same area,” said Peckham. “We got drafted together and I remember we all went out together on our draft night. We’ve always been side-by-side with our careers and stuff. Obviously he’s putting up a lot more points that I am right now.
“We’re not texting each other after each game, but we’re good buddies.”
Peckham and Stewart were pounding on each other most of the game Thursday as the Blues came back to win 4-3.
The two have had plenty of good battles and even had a memorable fight when the St. Louis Blues winger was a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
“It was my first Hockey Night in Canada game,” Peckham said. “He was still coming into the league at that point.
“It’s funny every time we see each other on the ice now, we’ll be: ‘How’s it going? Good, you? Not bad. Wanna go? Yeah Sure.’ It’s pretty funny, there’s not a lot of hatred with us when we’re fighting.”
The two dropped the gloves a few times when they were in junior as well.
“We crossed paths a lot growing up,” Stewart said. “We had a couple of fights growing up too. He’s a pretty honest player it’s good to see he’s in the NHL.”
TURNING THE BLUES AROUND
Ken Hitchcock made an immediate impact when taking over behind the Blues bench.
The veteran coach has the Blues playing their best hockey of the season and climbing steadily up the Western Conference standings.
Part of the reason is that he’s been getting outstanding goaltending from both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, who are blossoming under Hitchcock’s system.
“What we’ve done since I got here, is we’ve tried not to give up odd-man rushes,” Hitchcock said. “I think you can spend all day in your zone five-on-five and any goalie is going to look good. I think goalies can make saves in traffic by the way they position themselves.
“But when you’re giving up odd-man rushes, two-on-ones, three-on-twos, that really unnerves goalies, I don’t think they know how to stay on their angles. I think not giving up odd-man rushes has helped. If you look at both goalies have been able to play a little better, because we’ve been better in front of them.”
PLAYING THE BEST
Hitchcock is a big believer in playing his best players in all situations. That includes both on the power-play and penalty kill.
“I know this doesn’t sit well with other people, but I believe your best players have to kill penalties,” said the Blues coach. “Your best players have to play. I don’t believe in just having your third or fourth line players becoming penalty killers. The risk is that somebody gets whacked on the ankle and that’s a chance I’m willing to take. I believe that your best players have to get out there. I believe your best players are your smartest players and I think you let them off the hook by not letting them kill penalties.
“From a pride standpoint, the team sees them out there making sacrifices like everybody else and they have to do the same amount of work as everybody else.”
On the score sheet, Josh Green appeared to have a bad night in his first game back with the Edmonton Oilers.
But even though he finished minus-four in the loss to the Sabres Tuesday, the veteran seemed to fit in well with the Oilers.
“I felt good, the legs felt pretty good, I felt I had lots of energy,” said Green, who was back in the lineup Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. “Obviously we didn’t get the results we wanted or I wanted. But overall it was OK, but there is certainly room for improvement.”
Green was in on all four goals the Sabres scored in the 4-3 win. Statistically things were better against the Blues, finishing even on the night.
“He was better than dash-four (minus four) as far as I’m concerned,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He’s a big, strong centreman, he can play any one of the forward positions. He understands the game well, he’s got good hockey IQ. He’s got great experience in the game at different levels. This is a guy that can really help us.”