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Coaching rivals Quenneville, Hitchcock: Big winners with mutual respect

Updated: April 18, 2014 12:27AM



ST. LOUIS — Joel Quenne­ville and Ken Hitchcock have matched wits since the late 1990s, when Hitchcock’s Dallas Stars beat Quenneville’s St. Louis Blues en route to the Stanley Cup in 1999. Quenneville is the NHL’s third-winningest coach with 706 regular-season victories. Hitchcock is seventh (second among active coaches) with 648.

The mutual respect has piled up with all those victories. Quenneville said Hitchcock’s teams “always play hard, and the right way.” And the more ­loquacious Hitchcock raved about his counterpart.

“I just think he’s, if not the best, he’s one of the best matchup guys in the world,” Hitchcock said. “And I don’t mean matchup like he’s going to have the right people on the ice against your players. He knows exactly which players do well in what zone, where they should start, where they should finish. He knows how to build his own lineup.

“He has really adapted. It’s not just adapting to the players, it’s adapting to the information that’s provided to you through ­analytics. He does a great job in the way he plays his team.

“And it’s a significant challenge for all of us. Because he’s not going to make mistakes. He’s not going to make errors. And that’s the sign of a very mature coach, that can have the right players on the ice at the right time, all the time. And that’s what the challenge is for us, to be able to match that.”

Injury update

T.J. Oshie (believed to be a concussion) and Patrik Berglund (upper body) missed Game 1 with injuries. But the Blues got a big lift from Vladimir Tarasenko’s return. Tarasenko was expected to miss the series with a broken hand suffered on March 15. The 21-goal scorer just got his cast off this week. Hitchcock said Tarasenko faced no limitations, and that he deserved credit for feverishly working himself back into the lineup.

“You’re talking 6-7 hours a day at the rink, 2-2 1/2 hours a day on the ice,” Hitchcock said. “Mostly by himself. … He’s had to do this pretty much all on his own.”

Calling for backup

The Hawks recalled goaltender Mac Carruth from Rockford as a precautionary measure. Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta are fine, and Carruth didn’t even participate in Thursday’s morning skate. But should one go down during a game, the Hawks don’t want to be left with just one goalie.

“We just wanted a third goalie here,” Quenneville said.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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