Today kind of feels like Judgment Day for the St. Louis Blues.
No matter the result of tonight's game, the Blues will still be alive in the second round of the NHL playoffs. But we'll have a pretty good idea of their chances of staying alive much longer. The difference between being down 2-1 vs. 3-0 seems about as wide as the drive between St. Louis and Los Angeles.
So while I'm not in a panic yet about the state of the Blues, I can understand if you are. And I can also understand if you're an eternal optimist and think this series is just getting started. Let me lay each case out and see where you fall.
The Sky Is Falling
The Kings have dominated the Blues the first two games of this series. Game 2 was possibly the worst game the team has played all season, especially considering the circumstances and they're generally strong play at home all year. Jaroslav Halak is out for the series, so no momentum change in net -- a common move this season. The team's best players, including David Backes, T.J. Oshie and David Perron, haven't played well at all. Alex Pietrangelo might not play. If he does, he probably won't be 100 percent. The power play went 0-9 in Game 2. And yet tickets for games 5 and 7 go on sale TODAY. St. Louis Blues, you are angering the hockey Gods! I'm going to find a cave to miss the fire and brimstone that will surely fall from the heavens at any moment.
This Series Is Going Six Or Seven Games
Have you seen the Blues play this poorly for any extended period of time under Ken Hitchcock? So what makes you think that's going to happen now, in the playoffs? And Backes, Oshie and Perron are due. And have you seen Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund playing? They are still performing. A few more guys step it up and the offense will be clicking. Elliott won't allow four goals the next two games. Have you seen how streaky the Kings' offense has been this season? And the Blues haven't played their best game yet. That's actually a good sign. They showed some real positive signs in the second and third periods. I think they come out tonight and take a lead and really put the pressure on the Kings to win at home, something they only did one out of two times in the first round. The Blues take this game tonight and it could be a whole new series. I will gladly buy a ticket to Game 5 AND Game 7 today. I will need them, Chicken Little.
I'm probably one of the few fans who is somewhere in the middle. I'm not optimistic at the moment, but I have a feeling the Blues could play their best game of the series tonight. If they don't they won't have many more chances to do it. The Kings aren't as good as they showed in that first period Monday. The Blues aren't that bad. Now is when this team can come together and really grow as a group. Or, Doug Armstrong will have some thinking to do about some of the personalities in the dressing room.
So, fine reader. How you doin'? You ducking for cover or are you wearing your Blues shirt to work talking people in off the ledge? Make your case while being respectful of the other side down below. Or walk the line with me. All I know is at some point this afternoon I'm going to obsess over Pietrangelo's injury status, start watching the clock and thinking about all the crazy line combinations Hitchcock is going to bust out to find the right players who fit together.