It's cliche, but it's true. Every game in the Stanley Cup playoffs is must win, because controlling the momentum is a must. The Blues controlled it for the first three periods on Tuesday, and they got cut a huge break when Jonathan Quick flubbed his puck handling and gave Alexander Steen the winning goal on a silver platter. That's not going to happen every night, and the team needs to realize this.
They hit, they banged, and they intimidated the Kings, which probably threw LA for a bit of a loop. Says Blues fourth liner and human wrecking ball Ryan Reaves:
''I think last year they did it to us,'' Reaves said. ''They pushed us out. I think this year, it's got to be the opposite. And when they push back, we've got to push harder.''
Reaves pushed everything in sight. By "pushed," I mean "ran over like a ton of bricks." The fourth line was frustrating for the Kings and created chances for the Blues. It's hard to question coach Ken Hitchcock for sacrificing Vladimir Tarasenko to keep that line together. He's doing it again tonight, and I don't think I have a problem with it. When you have Kings coach Darryl Sutter saying that his fourth line has to play like "big boys," I think it's safe to say which team controlled the tempo.
It's the rest of the team that you have to make sure plays up to snuff. Steen was the only player who scored Tuesday, but that wasn't due to lack of effort on everyone's part. The Blues fired everything that they had at the net, but Jonathan Quick was on his A game (with that one notable exception). If the Blues play tonight like they did yesterday, they should be fine. They just need to score more than one regulation goal. This is the playoffs; that doesn't work here. When you only score one regulation goal, well... I'll let Hitch explain it.
"You just got a feeling something bad might happen so you’re a little bit jittery with the puck… that’s something we will talk about. We just have to play. When we play we are a good team but when we get ahead of ourselves and we worry about getting ahead of ourselves instead of playing the game… I think that is what teams that have the experience of winning do, they just play."
A feeling something bad might happen? Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I was waiting for that starting at the beginning of the second intermission. A little insurance tonight'd be nice for all of our blood pressures, eh?