So we often get asked to answer questions about the Blues by the fan-run Committed Indian. I wrote these answers yesterday. I was still kind of bitter after Friday night's overtime loss. Plenty of jabs at the Hawks, but also at my team too. It's on the negative side. I'm sure you can understand.
Questions are in bold:
Two OT losses in a row, what's the mood like down there? Confident because they've basically been coin flips or panicked facing the brink?
In my mind, it's over. I've been on this thrill ride before. I know how it ends. It's muscle memory at this point. Now if you were to go on social media, say Twitter, the big story is how this series has played out exactly like the Blues' first round series last year against the Kings. Win two games on goals by Alexander Steen and Barret Jackman. Lose the next two on the road. Then come home and lose in overtime. So the narrative says the Blues will lose 2-1 today. So it was foretold, so it will be.
But now on social media there are the always optimists who say this series isn't over and just one little win on Chicago ice sends this game back to St. Louis for a Game 7. And because of the extensive playoff track record of this franchise, it's natural to expect that the Blues will do well in a Game 7? What the fuck. Those people had to be Cardinal fans converted to rooting for the Blues. Because anyone who has been a hockey fan first in this baseball town will only expect the worst. We're the ant-Cardinals fans.
If this were an MMA fight where Fels and I were rolling around on the ground groping each other sweaty and shirtless, the cherry-picking captain's goal was like a rear naked choke hold (one of the more bicurious sports terms out there) and I'm fucking tapping out because I don't want this fight to go on anymore. I'm saying uncle.
What would you like to see Hitchcock change today to bring the series back to St. Louis Tuesday?
Ken Hitchcock is a train wreck right now. He gets David Backes back and he doesn't put together the top line until the third period. He at least broke them up during the heart of the game. The best line during the series has been Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and whichever lucky bastard gets to skate with them. In Game 4, Patrik Berglund actually showed signs of life for the first time in a month. He skated hard, he won battles along the boards. It showed that Schwartz and Tarasenko will out-work anyone. And if you lollygag on their line, there's going to be a white hot spotlight on you. And everyone in the building will see you're going through the motions, why aren't you fucking playing hard like those guys? Shame. It's real. And of course there were shifts where Schwartz and his BFF Tarasenko weren't out there together. And Berglund was on some weird third or fourth line with Ryan Reaves. I was hoping Hitchcock had a mini stroke or something because that's really the only explanation for some of his decisions.
If the big man has balls (and you and I both know he's not sure anymore because he hasn't seen them in decades) he'd start Brian Elliott. We've seen the shaky Ryan Miller. We've been driven to drink by the shaky Miller. But that would be showing up his general manager. And when this season comes to an abrupt end in either the next few hours or at some point Tuesday night, the Blues can blame injuries at the wrong time and talk about how they were unlucky to play the defending Cup champions. And the truth will be they didn't have enough scoring depth, this core of players isn't likely to ever win the big playoff games and the entire blueprint for this team is a bit flawed. And no, I'm not a Hawks fan.
We know he's the captain and leader, but should David Backes really be out there?
Here's what I think is the truth. I heard rumblings early in the week. I spoke to someone before Friday night's game. I believe it now. Backes never had a head injury. He has a broken toe. He did it the last week of the season. The puck hit him in the boot. Broke a toe. Not sure which one. He didn't play the last couple of games of the regular season and they never hinted to what his injury was. He skated the first two games of the series with the toe. Now the dirty hit from Brent Seabrook dazed him, but that struggling you saw when he tried to stand up? Toe-related. I don't care if you believe me because it's the truth. Now I haven't seen any studies about permanent damage to a guy's toe if he plays on it, but I think he'll be fine in the long run if he plays. Therefore, you will see him out there after probably taking a painkilling injection to part of his foot.
If I'm right, it leads to a few conclusions. First, the Blues were playing the head injury up to get Seabrook suspended. I don't have any doubt about that. And it also illustrates how useless injury reports are and how futile any information gathering is done during the playoffs. Of course you could also say that Backes might be better today and give the Hawks some extra trouble because his melon is fine and his toe has had time to heal a little, but that would have to be dependent on the Blues actually putting up a fight today and I'll believe that when I see it.
If there's one Hawk who has surprised you, who has it been?
Obviously it has to be Brookbank. The Hawks are 3-0 when he plays and 0-2 when he doesn't.
How do I answer this question? The total dick move would be to say how average Cory Crawford has been. He gives away rebounds like judges giving prison sentences to Illinois governors. But hey, he's won three games. So that's a bad response. I didn't think Captain Serious was a guy who would hang out in the neutral zone waiting for a pass. I thought that was a Patrick Kane-type move. I'll say this. When Sharp is on the ice, I'm always worried. His numbers haven't shown it in this series, but the guy loves to play against the Blues.
Both the Hawks and Blues are basically playing with 10 forwards. Couldn't the Blues get a little more from their supporting cast through Magnus Paajarvi rather than Reaves or Porter?
Plug time. I'm a contributor to a radio show here in St. Louis on CBS Sports 920. On my hit on Friday, I suggested they sit Ryan Reaves and play Magnus Paajarvi. So good call! Best insight in this entire paper, in my opinion. Look, Hitchcock doesn't work that way. Tarasenko was a healthy scratch to start the playoffs last season. In one of his bullshit media answers this week, the fat man talked about how no one should be surprised that the Hawks were coming back in the series because it takes will and determination to win a championship, so obviously the Hawks weren't making tee times down 0-2. And it was a telling comment because that's how he thinks you win games in the playoffs, by having the stronger will and imposing it on your opponent. Icing a third line with little fast guys or skill players is not in his doughy DNA. He wants to play a physical, rough, gritty and punishing game. He wants to break the spirits of the Hawks. Instead of scoring more goals, apparently.
We know why our power play sucks. Why does yours?
Couple things in play. Derek Roy is making $4 million this year to be the second line center and power play quarterback. And somewhere along the way he took the coach's favorite doughnut or his parking space at the rink or something because he's been punished all year and seen way too many shifts on the fourth line and in the press box. He's been ruined. So when you see Vladimir Sobotka skating the puck up ice in the neutral zone, know two things. First, he's going to panic and dump the puck in. And second, the Blues ain't scoring. Two other thoughts. They haven't had a consistent threat from the blueline. It's a catch 22. If the guy at the point cranks a shot, it goes wide. If he aims it, the puck flutters on the way to Crawford's glove. If it isn't blocked first. Second is they're rushing shots. Guy carries over the line, listen to that fucker in the 10th row yelling shoot! Because he is. And Crawford's not seeing traffic and no one is there to collect one of those rebounds he's giving away.
In conclusion, yes I know my team is fucked. I don't expect a game on Tuesday even though it would help my little business operation. Related note: anyone who reads this paper who wears red and bought my paper down in St. Louis, I sincerely thank you. The guys who do this with me always say Hawks fans will take a joke and can relate to us. You're like the anti-Detroit fans (and thank God those fuckers are out of the playoffs).
And to the guy in the Hawks jersey who talked to me for a few seconds saying he reads this rag and didn't buy mine, fuck you.