While the actual end came down to watching a third party decide the Blues' playoff fate this year, it didn't have to be this way. The fact of the matter is that the Blues killed themselves long before the Avalanche did. It may have been Colorado's win tonight that actually finished them off, but the Note did all the real damage a long time ago.
There are myriad factors to blame for the Blues missing the playoffs: they were not good enough at home, they were not good enough as they tried (successfully) to get Andy Murray fired, they were not good enough against the Central Division, they gave up too many third period leads.
At the end of the season, when it was virtually too late to make a difference, they turned it on. As a fan I was happy to see them motivated and winning. It is, after all, way more fun than losing. At the same time, I hope that the young Blues learned an important lesson this year: All 82 games matter, not just the last 35. Last year's miracle run was a blast, but the players took away the wrong lesson from the experience. They didn't learn that you have to bust your ass from opening night all the way to April, they learned that they can just coast through the first half of the season and just get hot late.
Not so fast, fellas.
So, with three games left to play the Blues have a few more lessons they could learn:
- So-called 'meaningless' games against your rivalas (Chicago) should never be meaningless. Go into their building and beat their asses, just to set the precedent.
- The last home game of the season means as much to the fans as the home opener. Go beat the Ducks' asses in front of your faithful fans. They sold out 33 of the 40 home dates this year and you sucked it up in front of them more times (23) than you won for them (16) so far. You owe them.
- So-called 'meaningless' final games, even on the road, can be touchstone games. Go show the Predators that you're not quite dead yet and that next year, assholes, is going to be different.
Right now this season feels like a disappointment. If the Blues learn the proper lessons from what they just went through, it could be a turning point. It could be the point that they look at and say, "That's when we realized what it takes to be successful in this league."
If they can do that then it won't be a disappointment at all. Not at all.