I caught this gem by James Duthie of TSN regarding if fans tend to evaluate a team's entire season based upon the first few games. It's still early in the season, but we're hearing of how the Avs are a "surprise success" and seeing the Maple Leafs in all of their truculent glory without a single win to their credit. Is one a reason to be happy and the other a reason to be worried? Probably. Is it fair to call the Avs' season a success and the Leafs' a failure? No. Do we need to drop teams 19 spaces on a power ranking because of two losses? What is this, the BCS?
As Blues fans, were we guilty of this after the first two games of the season? What about after back-to-back losses - is it fair to judge then? Just how important are the first games of the season anyway?
Best. Blues team. EVAH.
All right, admit it, you were pretty damn happy when we beat Detroit to sweep the Swedish Premiere weekend. I was thrilled. Here we were, a team that a lot of people were still picking to be out of the playoff picture, and we just took out the defending Western Conference champs. That's nothing to snicker at. We saw resilience, we saw grit, and we saw speed. The rookies of last year didn't show many, if any, signs of sophomore slumpage, and the team (with the possible exception of Sydor, who looked kinda lost and still does) was working its way through figuring out the line pairings and tendencies of players, and did it after a little bit. Murray's doghouse was empty.
Are these valid reasons to be thrilled and optimistic about this season? Did we think that we would be first in the Central all season long? Raise your hands if you said "All these stupid people picking Chicago to contend with Detroit can kiss it." Of course we had reason to be proud of what the Blues accomplished.
THE SKY IS FALLING!
Flip side of this is the lackluster play that the Blues have shown since they got home. Oshie and Berglund have been non-factors (and have non-factored themselves onto the 4th line and doghouse, respectfully). Very few players are showing that grit that they used against Detroit. Fewer along the boards scrums, less hitting, decreased ability to score a garbage goal - or willingness to get in there an do it in the first place. All the things that helped us in Detroit were gone. *poof* Does that mean that they're gone for the rest of the year, and that we'll skate along lackadaisically for the rest of the year? No, of course not. But the fact that the lines don't click should be a concern, as should new lines every game so no one gets a chance to work with their linemates. We absolutely cannot succeed if we allow the issues we've seen the last few games to become a habit.
Does this warrant us plunging down on a power rankings chart? Hell no. Four games is a statistically invalid sample size for everything else in the free world, so why not hockey? We learned in Sweden what we had to do (and that the Red Wings have Grandma Moses and a lifelong AHLer in goal), but we need to keep it up - and realize that not every teams' goalies are going to be as weak as Detroit's. Once in a while, yes, we'll turn in a bad game or two, or have a bad stretch in the year. Is having 2 bad games at the start of the season cause for hyperventilation? Naaahhh. But I swear, if we have one more...