Thanks to David Backes, the Blues again fooled us into believing that maybe, maybe they could pull something out of this game.
I waver back and forth between expecting to see the Blues lose to a team like the Avalanche and watching some of the players work on this team and thinking that the potential is still there, whether it translates to a run at the playoffs this year or just in the coming years.
The power play, when T.J. Oshie, David Backes, Patrik Berglund and Alex Pietrangelo are moving the puck around like they're practicing against a bunch of orange cones, makes me think that the raw talent is there and that it just needs to mature a bit.
On the other hand, when the team goes 10-15 minutes of game time straight without a legitimate scoring chance I wonder if I'm just doomed to root for shitty teams.
Truth be told, I think these guys are going to make a late-season run, make the playoffs just barely and thereby cement the organizational mentality that they can just turn on their talent every year when they want to just to make the playoffs. That the franchise will believe that as long as these players are the core of the group that every game does not, in fact, count. It's exciting for fans to watch from February through March, but it's a deadly mentality to have as your guiding principle; teams that expend all of their energy just to get to the playoffs don't win the Stanley Cup much. The playoffs are a marathon; no long distance runner knocks down 26.2 miles the day before he runs the Boston Marathon.
Some other random thoughts for your discussion:
- Fans are starting to turn on Jaroslav Halak already. I am not one of them. Yes, the first goal tonight was one that a Squirt goalie would save 90% of the time and Halak should have stopped. The late goal that trickled through his five hole was another one he should definitely have stopped. That said, this guy is in his first year as a starter. He has a lot to learn about the level of compete needed when you're playing 60 games a year. If Halak isn't better than this next year, I'd be shocked.
- Silent Jay McClement has a goal, an assist, a couple nice blocked shots on the PK, several big faceoff wins and even threw in a spin-o-rama in the offensive zone. Someone get the puck to JSelke - dude is feeling it!
- Erik Johnson is hurt or his confidence is shaken a bit. Call me amateur psychiatrist, but the coaches need to let him know that he doesn't need to try to put the team on his shoulders, he needs to just play his game. I'm sure the supposed trade rumors about him are in his head, but he needs to say, Fuck all that, Imma just play some hockey.
- The broadcast crew made a good point about Alex Pietrangelo leaving his feet on the PK and I think that was well-said. Going to the ice is a desperation move and there was no need to get desperate there. Additionally, with Ryan Stoa's ass right in his face in the crease, Halak needs to introduce his stick to Stoa's taint right there and move him out of the way so he can see the play. It was a hell of a shot by Shattenkirk (wait, who shat in Kirk?), but if Halak acn at least see the shot, he's got a better chance at stopping it.
- What happened to Chris Stewart? One of the league's worst Blues Killers didn't have a point, managed one shot and was minus-1. Nice.
- People (including, possibly, me) have complained that Brad Boyes is a floater and is afraid of contact. Boyes may have some issues this year scoring goals again, but physicality has not been his problem lately. I noticed in the Columbus game that he was delivering hits and taking hits, even going into 50/50 puck battles when he knew he was going to get hit into the boards. Hockey players, like football players, talk about how the first collision of the game helps get them into the flow and get rid of the pre-game jitters and head games. Boyes' behind-the-back primary assist on Eric Brewer's goal wasn't the play of a guy who is gripping his stick or overthinking the game.
Blues go to see Cal and Gary on Wednesday. Unfortunately for all of us, those dudes are now playing good hockey for the first time all year. Just. Great.