"Waste not, want to be on the inside but instead find yourself on the outside looking in at the NHL Playoff seeds not." ~ ancient proverb
Chalk it up to the Stars playing hard for their final home game. Chalk it up to them playing tough because they knew they had a guy in goal who was in the ECHL just two days ago. Chalk it up to the Stars knowing that if they didn't win in regulation they'd be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Chalk it up to whatever makes you happy about the Blues loss, but the team has squandered the opportunity they carried into tonight's contest: they controlled their own destiny for the first time all season. Leaving one point behind opened the door for someone else to rip that right out of their hands.
Nashville walked through that door, ripped it out of the Blues hands and then sat down and started to eat it. Down 3-1 to the Blue Jackets, the Preds tied the game and then won in shootout, pushing themselves past the Blues into ninth place. We keep talking about how resilient the Blues are, but they could take lessons on it from Nashville.
Now we're right back where we've been since the Blues started this improbable run; we need the team to win their games and they now also need help from other teams. And if history has shown us anything, it is to never start a land war in Asia and to never count on other NHL teams to help your playoff chances.
And yet, we can still be positive. The remaining three games can't be treated as easy wins, as the Coyotes do still beat teams and the game against the Avalanche will be their home finale (sound familiar?) and they'll likely want to put on a good show for the fans. Saturday's game against the Blue Jackets is hardly a gimme, either, even with a certainly raucous DrinkScotch Center crowd piled in up to the rafters.
None will be easy wins (the Blues have beaten an opponent by three goals only a handful of times since starting their hot streak in January. They've only won three games -Philly, Florida and Dallas - by four or more all year), but all are winnable games. On the other hand, the other teams on the bubble have much more difficult roads ahead of them:
- Nashville plays Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota
- Anaheim plays San Jose, Dallas and Phoenix
- Minnesota plays Detroit, Dallas, Nashville and Columbus
It's still uphill and the Blues need to handle their own business first and worry about getting help second. There's just no more room to squander opportunities when you have them in your hand.