By Brad Lee
Holy shit, we actually have a playoff race on our hands.
After a 5-1 dominating win at home against Chicago Tuesday night, the Blues are still three points out of the final playoff spot, but they jumped into 10th place in the conference and really breathed some life into fans' hopes that the Blues' season might not end April 6. Go figure.
Look, we're about as optimistic as hockey fans can be who are dedicated to a team to never even win a game in the Stanley Cup Finals. But when the team went through that recent six-game winless streak, we were ready to trade the unrestricted free agents and reload for the draft and next season. One solitary man changed our minds. That man is Emmanuel Legace II. Tuesday night was a breeze compared to recent games. He made 19 saves, but only faced 20 shots. And for a change, the Blues didn't make Legace win the game by himself (he was still named the game's No. 1 star).
David Backes is developing a mean streak. He stood up for teammates around the net all night and absorbed a bone-crunching hit from behind that sent him face first into the glass. He hit the glass so hard, the boards bounced him backwards from the impact. He did return on the ensuing power play showing his resiliency and youth. The more physical he plays, the better the Blues play.
The power play is suddenly dangerous. Before Sunday night, the Blues hadn't scored three power play goals in a game all season. They've now done it two games in a row. The key has been moving the puck more quickly creating time and space. But it still seems that Blues players spend too much time settling the puck instead of sending it around the zone.
Another thing that was really satisfying to see was the Blues playing with more and more confidence as they got a two and then three-goal lead. They were really swarming the puck, forechecking and forcing the issue. It was almost like they could exhale as a group and they suddenly found that killer instinct. As a team, they wanted to step on the Hawks' neck and finish them off as soundly as possible. Take that, Chicago's playoff hopes.
And if you watch the highlights online or on NHL Network and don't say, "Fuck yeah!" or something similar, check your pulse. You might already be dead.
On a personal note, thanks to the Goalie Guy who offered up a tremendous seat in the mezzanine at center ice. We had a great time, and GG I'll take tickets off your hands any time.
Up next is a trip out west to Los Angeles and Anaheim. Look for the live blog Thursdayat 9:30 p.m. for the Kings and Friday at 9 p.m. for the Ducks.