Just 13 hours have passed since the Blues took a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round series with the Sharks. Game 5 is here in St. Louis on Saturday. They have three games to close the series out. Of all the teams that have taken a 3-1 lead, 90 percent of them win the damn thing.
This series is not over.
The last time the Blues had a 3-1 lead, they blew it in 2003 against the Canucks. This team is filled with guys who haven't won an NHL series before. Hell, a bunch of them had never won an NHL playoff game before last week. So let's not count our playoff chickens before they hatch. Don't plan the party for Saturday night just yet.
And the Blues are saying the right things about finishing the Sharks. First of all, Andy McDonald told Bernie Federko on Fox Sports Midwest that the Blues want to go into Saturday night and "step on their throats." Love that phrase. It's so violent, but it's what it takes to send a team home for the year. It's the attitude the Blues need for that game.
Here, listen to B.J. Crombeen, a playoff goal-scorer.
Obviously we know this is a great team we're playing. They're not going to roll over and die. We know we're going to have their best game next game and we're going to need our best to play with them. We're enjoying this one now for a few minutes, but we're focused on what we've got to do for the next one.
In the post-game press conference, Ken Hitchcock was asked a lot about the youth of his team and not being in this position before. Here's what he said about that:
This is new ground for us. I know one thing. We've played well at home all year. I know we're going to play well, but they're going to play well too. They're not going quietly. There's very little difference between the two teams right now. The difference is we've scored on our power play chances and they haven't on theirs and that's the No. 1 difference in the series and that's about it.
This is important to hear from the coach to the media because you know it's the same message he's giving the players in the dressing room. And I'm fairly certain he has their undivided attention. Whent he Blues played well for him from the beginning, a lot of players talked about how Hitchcock had been to the mountain top before with the Stars. He had the resume as a winning leader and he knew how to get a team to the next level. If they believed all that in November, how do you think they're listening in mid-April?
The Blues will not be able to coast on Saturday. The Sharks have scored in the last minutes of the previous two games. One comment about that could be that the Sharks are scoring meaningless goals to get the games close, but can't get over the hump. Another would be that the Blues were playing everyone back, letting the Sharks have the zone and get a ton of chances. Yet another is that the Sharks haven't quit. They've fought to the final horn when faced by multi-goal leads and long odds. That won't change Saturday.
When the Blues were down three games to nothing against Vancouver in 2009, they played their best game of the series in Game 4. Expect the on the brink Sharks to possibly do the same thing.