Through 40 minutes Wednesday night, the Blues were playing even with the Central Division leading Detroit Red Wings. The score was 3-3 despite Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak somehow hitting a puck in mid-air not once but twice with his stick knocking it over his shoulder into his own net for the first goal of the game for the Red Wings.
Through 40 minutes the penalty kill looked dominant, Brad Boyes was scoring, setting up teammates and even getting credit for open ice hits. It was going so well, Brad Winchester scored. And then the officials decided to follow the NHL rule book and went ahead with playing a full 60 minutes in the game. And before you knew it, the Blues were down 7-3. Four unanswered goals in the third period bullied the Blues right out of the game. Halak was "credited" for allowing all seven Detroit goals.
What's apparent is that Halak is playing well enough to keep the Blues in games and potentially win them, but he can't do it alone against a superior team, and that's frankly what the Red Wings are right now. It's difficult to imagine AHL call-ups and young players, especially on defense, being able to defeat the best teams in the conference.
What will be interesting is when the Blues play two Eastern Conference teams at home this weekend when Ottawa and New Jersey come to town. Is there a gap between East and West? I think we'll figure that out in a 24 hour period come Friday. In the grand scheme of things, the Blues are still in the hunt in the conference. There's no way the Wings were four goals better Wednesday night. But that's the final score, that's what the Blues have to live with. And that's what we fans have to deal with between now and Friday night when the Blues can take the ice again...and attempt to not break our hearts again.