USA TODAY Sports
ESPN.com's hockey guy Scott Burnside spent the Blues' last extended road trip with the team. He has some insight that most fans don't, obviously, so should we believe him when he says to not give up on the team?
With the Blues' commanding 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, Blues fans can be forgiven for being a little frustrated. Frustrated after a win? Well, yes. They played like we know that they can. The line made up of David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and Chris Stewart combined for nine points last night, and generally speaking the team was a lot better defensively than they have been. So where is this every single game? Why can't they just play like this all of the time?
It's frustrating, and their recent play has made some bandwagoners jump ship (ta!), and that's fine. Die hard fans are either frustrated as hell or just numb to the terrible play, because we've gone through this for so many seasons. There's a difference between apathy and giving up, but ESPN.com's Scott Burnside doesn't think we should do either.
He recently spent some time with the team on their last road trip, so he knows a lot about the inner workings of the coaching staff and the locker room. More so than we do, of course. What he's seen first hand makes him think that the Blues can still win the Stanley Cup, and he tries his damnedest to get us to believe that too.
The first point he makes is that they're not the Chicago Blackhawks. No shit. The Hawks are playing consistent hockey -- the Blues are all over the map. Burnside believes that this consistency will make them burn out in the playoffs, much like Detroit's good hockey last year at home did. First off, consistency during the regular season doesn't necessarily mean that the team's going to get pooped out. Second off, you have to enter this argument believing that the Blues are making the playoffs to begin with. Through the grace of last night's win, they're sitting in eighth place.
Secondly, he points out Ken Hitchcock is a good coach and the coaching staff is organized and talented. Swell! Our team is is comprised ofpeople with selective hearing who have personal agendas. Let's see which side wins.
His third factor we did see in full effect last night: the Blues seem to like playing in front of rookie Jake Allen.
Allen played well in relief of Halak and Elliott during a crucial road trip last month, going 3-0 in his first NHL starts. The players seem to like playing in front of Allen, and he impressed the coaching staff with his maturity and quick adaptation to the NHL game. We're not suggesting Allen, who was recalled this week from the American Hockey League, will go all Ken Dryden in the spring, but he might be the guy around whom the Blues rally and in front of whom they can get back their elite level of play.
Can't disagree, but will Allen's psyche hold out?
Point number four is a great reason to keep hope -- if the Blues get fully healthy, they'll be a lot harder to play against. The second line of Vladimir Tarasenko, Andy McDonald, and Alex Steen would come in handy right about now - especially since the current second line is going hellzafire. Imagine what could be if David Backes and the first line would play consistently like they did in the Edmonton game.
Finally, he says that the team is built to overcome adversity. The bad thing is, a lot of what the Blues have gone through have been self-imposed problems. They're creating their own mountain out of what once was a molehill. So, they have the stuff to build the mountain, and they have the stuff to climb it. Does that cancel out?
I don't think anyone should give up on their team. Be frustrated with them, yes, but the Blues have shown throughout their history to be hard workers. There's nothing going here yet that they can't fix. But I think hoping that they can win the Stanley Cup might be a little far off in the future. Burnside makes excellent points, but let's just take it one day at a time, shall we?