First round series breakdown: Blues (2) vs. Sharks (7)
Hitchcock completely changed the scheme and culture of the Blues after taking over from Davis Payne early in the season. The Blues attack the puck, especially in the middle of the ice, and they don't like to give it back once they get it, but they have some offensive concerns of their own. They scored only 210 goals as a team, and lost four for their last five games during the season (two at least went to OT). They'll need big winger David Backes to step up his game offensively, as he struggled through an ordinary second half, with three goals in his last 14 games. But the Blues have a lot of big, fast, physical forwards who have all been well versed in Hitchcock's 200-foot philosophy.
It doesn't figure to be easy skating for old Sharks standbys such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Ryane Clowe. San Jose was up and down all season, but showed enough grit down the stretch to make its way into the dance. But there is no question it could be a short spring for them this year.