Hi. Remember the playoffs? They're back.
Tonight the St. Louis Blues have a chance to prove their mettle as a team and show the last two months of the regular season were not a mirage. Or not.
Down 2-0 in their first round series against the Vancouver Canucks, the Blues have plenty of doubters. That stomping sound was thousands of "fans" jumping off the bandwagon at about 11 p.m. Friday night. What was a feel good story for this city is now "the same old Blues." And that's damn pathetic. If anything, this team showed it doesn't give up.
When the injuries mounted, they kept going. When Manny Legace imploded, they kept going. When they had big losses against Detroit and Chicago, setbacks against Dallas and Vancouver, it wasn't over. When they clinched a playoff birth on a Friday night, they traveled to Colorado and kicked some Avalanche ass to earn sixth place. At every turn this season, the Blues have had the chance to fold up, use any one of a dozen excuses and call it a season. And they didn't. So why should the fans?
Sure, it's easier to doubt the Bleus right now because if they lose (and as the sixth seed playing the three seed, it's supposed to happen), it will be easy to be the "told you so" asshole that thinks he's smarter than you. Fuck that guy. What's it cost to believe the Blues have a chance, a little heartbreak, some disappointment? I'm not going to say that whatever happens with this series the season is a success because they made the playoffs. That might be true, but it won't make me feel any better if they don't advance to the next round. When the Blues made it a legitimate playoff run, I told Gallagher there would be only two outcomes for this season: great elation or bitter disappointment. That might be an overstatement, but getting swept by the Canucks would really, really suck.
One thing you're going to have to know as a Blues fan tonight is that you have a job to do if you have tickets. Make this place the most inhospitable rink in the NHL tonight. Louie is off the roof, so it's a sellout. Scream, yell, teach the Canucks new and interesting combinations of swear words. But don't stoop as low as talking about a player's wife, because that really is a dick move. Just ask Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. In fact when you go home tonight, go to YouTube and search those two pricks, David Backes and his wife Kelly. Burrows and Kesler were heard talking to Backes about his wife. "Tell Kelly I said hi," Kesler
First of all, that's awesome that the cameras caught it. And there's no way I'm shocked to hear two Canucks were complete assholes. And shouldn't both of them be suspended indefinitely and forced to undergo anger management counseling? That's what happened to Sean Avery when he was talking about Dion Phaneuf's girlfriend, Elisha Puck Bunny Cuthbert. I demand a full investigation. And the names of Burrows' and Kesler's life partners. Is gay marriage legal in British Columbia?
Speaking of guys we don't like in Vancouver, how about that Kevin Bieksa? At the end of the game in the waning seconds, he took a cheap shot to knock down BJ Crombeen and was apparently shocked the Beej wanted retribution. "He kind of slew-footed me right at the end of the game," Crombeen told the Vancouver Sun. "I'm not going to stand for that. I think that's a pretty gutless play. I just went after him to address it." You might have seen clips of Blues head coach Andy Murray furiously banging on the glass and screaming at the Vancouver bench when every player on the ice except the goalies were involved in an end of the game scrum. What a shock it was to see Keith Tkachuk play the role of peacemaker instead of instigator. I don't know if Cam Janssen will dress tonight, but if he does I hope he introduces himself to Bieksa.
The Blues have a shot for a couple reasons. First of all, Murray will have an easier time matching lines with the Sedin twins. That means Jay McClement, Alex Steen and Crombeen will most likely be on the ice at the same time as the Swedish sisters. While they have two goals and five assists, much of their work has happened away from the best checkers on the Blues. Shut those two big-headed forwards down and the Canucks have trouble scoring. Sure Pavol Demitra apparently has a hard-on for his former team and Mats Sundin scored his first goal in 15 games Friday night, but the Sedins are the creepy looking fuel that makes the Vancouver offense run.
Trust me when I say that Roberto Luongo is human. He's not Voltron; he can be defeated. The Blues beat him this year. His career regular season record against the Blues is a decent but not out of this world 10-7-0. As hard as this may be to believe, Brad Winchester is on of the most crucial players for the Blues tonight. That man can be a human wrecking ball going to the net. If he channels his inner Tomas Holmstrom and drives to the net like there's little chocolate doughnuts hidden inside it, the Blues can rattle Luongo. Tkachuk needs to put his ass in Bobby Lou's face and drop a few fart bombs. David Backes should be inches away from Luongo nearly every shift. The guy lets up rebounds, but if no one is there to be opportunistic, the puck gets corralled by a Vancouver defender and cleared from the zone.
The Blues need more sustained pressure in the offensive zone, and that starts with the fore check. This series has been tight and physical. No bit of ice has been claimed uncontested during the first two games. The Blues need to get the attitude that visitors to this rink can't play like that.
The last time the Blues rallied from an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series was 1972. Since then they are 0-8. So yeah, the Blues are in a big hole. But it's no deeper than they last place chasm they were in all of January and into February.
That's it. You're ready. We're ready. Let's do this. This is your game day thread. You know what to do.