The Blues have hit the point this season where they can't rely on other teams to get the job done. The Flyers, in town tonight, lost to the Bruins in a shootout on Sunday, and the Winnipeg Jets put up four goals on the Anaheim Ducks (who seem to have a problem with the conference's shittier teams) only to see that lead slip away to a 5-4 overtime loss. Talk about not playing a full 60. Wow.
Tonight that means that if the Blues want to re-establish a three-point lead over the Ducks for the top spot in the West, they need to beat a Flyers team who beat them 4-1 last month despite fancy stats saying that it was a close puck possession game. It was, and possession helps you win hockey matches, but you know what else helps more? Scoring goals.
"It alarms you, but you’ve just got to get back to work," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "What we really needed (Saturday) was for other people to step up and didn’t get it. That’s what we needed. We’ve counted on one line for a good portion of the time; now we needed other people to step up — didn’t get it.
"That’s what worries me. We need other people to grab the rope here a little bit. The Backes line isn’t going to be perfect every night, but this was a real opportunity for other guys to really step forward, really help us. That’s what we need."
Welcome to late February, Coach Hitchcock. So glad that you've decided to join us.
That wasn't the highlight of the story though - wondering if Ryan Miller was going to live up to his billing of SAVIOR OF ALL OF ST. LOUIS HOCKEY SECOND COMING OF MIKE LIUT because he had a clunker of a game was. People need to calm down about the goaltending and focus on where the actual problem is: no one outside of Alexander Steen, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie - other than Jaden Schwartz - is scoring. Vladimir Tarasenko is out, people. Step up.
When you have the bottom two lines coming up as a combined -8, you have a problem. When you have 11 out of the last 13 goals being scored by your top line, you have a problem.
If they really are focused on winning the President's Trophy, the whole team needs to play like it, not just four guys. The Flyers have Vincent Lecavalier on their fourth line. They have depth, they are rolling four lines right now, and the Blues can't just toss out their top line constantly and their second line often and keep their fingers crossed.
The third line was, for lack of a better word, shit. We've finally gotten our answer to "whatever happened to the Baby Jane line?" They took a game off and probably don't need to be back out there again. They're a liability, the fourth line's turned into a liability, and there are issues that need to be resolved.
The Flyers are big and scary, but when the Blues' bruisers aren't playing up to par, maybe it's time to get some of those speedy scorers down from the press box and give them a crack on the fourth line. Doesn't someone need to be rested for the playoffs, anyway?