In 24 hours the Blues went from one of their worst performances of the season to one of their best in a 5-4 win at Detroit Thursday night. And as Andy Murray told Dan McLaughlin on Fox Sports Midwest immediately after the game, most people didn't see it coming.
"I'll guarantee every team that we're around in this playoff battle with right now, all their players are sitting in their rooms counting on us losing to Detroit tonight. So I'm glad we disappointed them," he said.
I don't know about you, but that warms my heart to hear the head coach talk about proving all the doubters wrong. Love it. What a crazy season this has been for the Blues.
In case you're joining the bandwagon late, here's the mini recap. The franchise defenseman blew out his knee playing golf before the season. The team got off to a strong start winning games with the league's best power play. Then injury after injury led to an AHL-like roster from November to early January. The Blues fell to last place in the Western Conference. Then rookie TJ Oshie got healthy and started playing well with fellow young players. Goaltender Manny Legace imploded, was sent to Peoria. Chris Mason has started every game for two straight months. Since Jan. 1, the Blues are the best team in the league. They now have an excellent chance at qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since the NHL lockout.
If I had written that storyline before the season as a work of fiction, it would have been universally panned as unrealistic and never possible. Yet here we are.
The Blues climbed into the bottom of the playoffs by beating Detroit for the first time all season. After going 0-4-1 and getting outscored 265-2 (or something like it), the Blues took the play to Detroit. They even played the Wings' style of wide open hockey in the third and beat them at their own game thanks to a career best four goals on the night from the emergent David Backes. He now has 30 on the season. The young leader on the Blues put his team on his...shoulders and led the way to a thrilling victory.
"Well we knew we didn't have a good performance last night. We wanted to come out and take it to them. You know, they're a great team and they came back every time we got up but perseverance paid off," Backes told McLaughlin after the game. "Great job by Chris Mason there at the end. We'll take the two points and go to our last four games here."
Backes admitted he couldn't remember the last time he scored four goals in a game. He possibly scored that many during training camp a few summers ago. The last Blues player to score four was the retired Scott Mellanby back in 2003. After Backes' third of the game, Blues play-by-play man on KMOX Chris Kerber said, "If you have a hat, chuck it at your radio."
"Obviously after the way we played in Chicago last night, we really needed to have a game like this. I liked our game right from the start," Murray said after the game. "I thought we had legs, we were on the fore check, I think we had seven shots in about the first five or six minutes. We were prepared to put the puck in the net, which we weren't last night. Just a lot of resolve in this team."
The win pushed the Blues' record in the second game of back-to-back nights to 10-7-1. Considering a fair number of those games happened in December and January when the team still wasn't playing its best, that's a damn good record. I mentioned Thursday that the Blues seem to do better when they have a hectic schedule compared to when they have time off. I think that's pretty good evidence.
So the Blues have just four games left: at Dallas, at Phoenix, home with Columbus and at Colorado. Those are four very winnable games. Seventh place still isn't out of the question. Neither is eighth, or ninth. But whatever happens, the next 10 days promises to be one hell of a ride.