ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The Mike-Yeo advantage may have worked both ways in the St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild series. But the Carter-Hutton factor may only be a positive for the Blues when facing Hutton’s former team in the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hutton spent his last three seasons with the Nashville Predators, backing up Pekka Rinne, before being signed by the Blues this past offseason.
There’s no legitimate way to determine what St. Louis gained from Yeo’s knowledge of his former Minnesota Wild players. But it clearly didn’t hurt, as St. Louis has advanced to the second round – sending the Wild home.
So, what could Hutton contribute to the Blues scouting report for this series?
“I think I know the personnel well, and their team and the way they like to play,” Hutton says. “Some input on their character like you can press guys a little to get a response from them.”
Yeo says he isn’t overlooking any source of information.
“A player being inside their locker room is a useful tool for us,” Yeo says.
The Blues and Predators have never met in the NHL Playoffs. This regular season, St. Louis had a 2-3 record against the Nashville.
“They are a strong, fast, younger team,” Hutton says. “They’ve got some European kids, but I think we have some guys that are going to grind on them. And it’s going to be interesting to see how those guys react.”
But the player Hutton may have the best knowledge of is the man he used to back up. Hutton didn’t divulge what he thought Rinne’s vulnerable holes were, but was quick to talk about the relationship they had as teammates.
Hutton was in his second season in the NHL when he was signed by Nashville before the 2013 season. Rinne was already a four-time All Star and debated amongst the best goalies in the world at the time. Hutton says in his NHL tenure, he definitely includes Rinne as one of the best goalies he’s seen.
“He’s a big man, he’s very mobile,” Hutton says. “I think sometimes his strengths can be his weaknesses, if we can get him moving a lot things are going to open up. But he’s one of those guys he tracks the puck so well. He eliminates a lot of second chances, he’s got a really good glove.”
Yeo says Rinne’s ability to play the puck out of his zone is one of his most prominent attributes, which was something Hutton also mentioned about his former teammate.
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Hutton says over the years in Nashville he was able to adapt his own game just by watching Rinne between the pipes. He says Rinne has made a big impact on his career, but that doesn’t just include the on-ice experiences.
“He was like really good to me, kind of took me under his wing when I first got there because when I first came in I didn’t really know Nashville,” Hutton says. “And I don’t think there was a night that I wasn’t going out for dinner with him. I never paid for a meal that’s for sure.
“Over the years he bought me suits for being his goalie partner. He’s a good person, he’s a good human. So he’s just one of those guys who I’m happy for his success and the way he’s going.”
But it shouldn’t be hard for Hutton to leave that friendship off the ice and do what’s necessary to win four of the next seven games against Nashville.
“Obviously we are going to take care of our business here, and take it to him,” Hutton says.
We will find out what the Hutton factor will bring for St. Louis starting Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Scottrade Center. Hear the game on Y98 98.1 FM, with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.