Blues Get Scalped In Chicago

At least one person on the team was taking the loss badly.

The Blues got beat at their own game Wednesday night in Chicago and lost a prime opportunity to gain ground on Western Conference competitors for the final two playoff spots.

 

The Hawks were simply more physical than the Blues all over the ice in a 3-1 win over St. Louis. The neutral zone was a minefield for the Blues, the offensive end, virgin territory much of the game. They got pushed around in their own end. Rumor has it the Hawks were waiting outside the Blues’ dressing room trying to steal their per diem money on the way to the team bus.

 

Here’s the weird part: It could have been worse. The Blues killed off six consecutive Chicago power plays include a four-minute minor on TJ Oshie for high sticking. They got outshot 11-3 in the first period and 10-4 in the second period. During one stretch the Blues failed to get a shot on net for more than 15 minutes. It was very difficult to tell which team played last night on the road (Chicago) and which had rested since Sunday (St. Louis). The lone goal for the Blues came with less than three seconds to play in the game.

 

“Not our best effort. We didn’t want to shoot the puck. Feet weren’t going for 40 minutes. We had a better try there in the third but it was a case of too little too late,” assistant coach Rick Wamsely told Dan McLaughlin after the game on Fox Sports Midwest. “We just sometimes refused to shoot it. Sometimes we think there’s a better play and when you don’t have anything going, one way to get it going is to shoot it form anywhere and to jump on the rebound.

 

“We just never got it going.”

 

Coming into the game the Blues were 12-5-4 against the Central while Chicago was a paltry 4-7-6. So the Hawks were due for some good luck against a divisional team. What was clear early on was that the Blackhawks played like the more desperate team and the Blues played like a team that might have been believing its press clippings. According to Norm Sanders at the Belleville News Democrat, that’s what coach Andy Murray was afraid of with the time off after two big wins over Columbus over the weekend.

 

"Everybody's wanting to pat them on the back right now and where are we?" Murray told reporters including Sanders. “You guys are all prepared to tell them how good they are right now and I'm telling them they're not good enough yet."

 

Those kinds of comments seem kind of prophetic if you ask me. It was such a relief to see the Blues finally sitting in a playoff position after the team had been pushing so hard for so many weeks, maybe it was natural for a letdown.

 

The other aspect of the game that seemed evident in the loss is that the Blues’ defensemen are still struggling getting the offense going in their own end. The forwards have compensated many games by starting the rush themselves at their own blue line. But for any team to be dangerous, they need some outlet passes in their own end.

 

So where does this leave the Blues? Still in ninth place, one spot out of the seventh and eight spots in the Western Conference. The Blues did have the cushion of having a game in hand on both Anaheim and Nashville, but they burned that up Wednesday night.

 

The Blues play just 24 hours later in Detroit. Against the Red Wings this season the Blues have no wins and a shootout loss in five games. So they’re due, right? Chris Mason is pretty much guaranteed to be in net. The Hawks will be well-rested, but St. Louis has played better hockey of late with a more hectic schedule.

 

This loss doesn’t squash the Blues’ chances. A win would have looked really good, but it didn’t happen. A two-game losing streak, now that’s going to be panic-inducing because the other teams in the conference fighting for the last two spots keep winning more than not.

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