After last night's 6-4 defeat to the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals were booted out of the playoffs. Considered World Series favorites by virtue of their regular season record, the Cards were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by a Chicago team who knew when to strike and strike hard.
If you are a Blues fan as well as a Cardinals fan, you know how familiar this feeling is.
If you tend to only watch hockey when there's nothing else on, welcome!
This brief guide to Blues hockey is geared directly at the person who is primarily a Cardinals fan. Hockey's season dovetails nicely with baseball's for a reason. Usually it's so we can use the start of baseball to forget the Blues' latest postseason exit; this year, it seems the tables are turned. Don't worry. We'll get you through this.
Ken Hitchcock vs. Mike Matheny
Are you a fan of maddening line-up decisions, tweaks that scream overthinking and underthought at the same time? Do you enjoy odds-defying regular seasons riddled by injury, whose completions feel like miracles? Six of one, half dozen of the other. Do you like playoff exits from winnable series? Probably not, but you're going to get it, and apparently Matheny has finally gotten onto Hitchcock's schedule. Who needs playoffs after the first round, anyway?
Player loyalty - Steve Ott/Vladimir Sobotka vs. Jon Jay/Allen Craig
Ken Hitchcock loved Vladimir Sobotka when he was here, putting him out on the power play and the top two lines, where he was probably not the best fit. Now occasionally the same will happen with a grizzled vet, probably Steve Ott.
Mike Matheny loves guys like Jon Jay, who got starts over Tommy Pham. He liked Allen Craig so much that John Mozeliak had to trade him to the Boston Red Sox.
Thrilling young rookie talent - Stephen Piscotty vs. Robby Fabbri/Colton Parayko
So yes, one of the Blues' rookies, Robby Fabbri, is already out with a concussion, which separates him from phenom Stephen Piscotty, who managed to avoid one by grace of God. Both are fun, exciting players who will have years of success ahead of them. And hey, if the Cards have Pham, the Blues have defenseman Colton Parayko. Parayko just scored his first two NHL goals last night against the Calgary Flames. More are probably to come.
Old People - Scottie Upshall/Scott Gomez vs. Matt Holliday/John Lackey
John Lackey too young for you? Here, have Scott Gomez. Holliday getting a little beat up and worse for wear? We have a nice slightly used Scottie Upshall. The Blues' old folks' home is a rotating stable of senior citizens, so every year you get a different surprise.
Guy you don't want out of the lineup: Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Yadier Molina
The Cardinals haven't won a playoff game without Molina behind the plate since 2004. He's a key piece of the team that is next to impossible to replace (see next section). Vladimir Tarasenko's the first superstar that the Blues have had on the roster since the days of Brett Hull, and replacing his scoring ability is an impossibility. One of these guys go down, and you have a problem on your hands.
Guy you shouldn't expect to play often: Magnus Paajarvi vs. Tony Cruz
PRV was slated to be the 13th forward, and he's been passed in the depth chart since the start of training camp. If you live in Chicago, you will be seeing the former first round draft pick play often, but he doesn't fit in with the Blues as they are constructed.
Tony Cruz, if you see him, it's either a too-rare Molina off-day against a meh team in a low pressure situation (yay!) or because Yadi is hurt and in that case it's probable wailing and gnashing of teeth time for everyone. Cruz isn't bad, but he's a backup for a reason. PRV isn't bad, but he's the Blues' 15th forward (probably) for a reason.
Celebrity fan: Jon Hamm
Jon is a fan of both teams, as evidenced by his wearing of the Hat of Lies in a commercial from quite a few seasons ago (special guest appearance by Game Time!):
He is also a noted fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, acting as the go-to celeb in pretty much every all star softball game.
So yes, it is possible to multitask and be fans of both teams at once. If you won't believe most of us here at Game Time, you can believe Mr. Hamm.
Expected alcohol consumption:
Hockey fans drink a lot. Blues fans probably drink more than the average hockey fan. Let's put it this way - if you haven't bought stock in AB-InBev-SABMiller-TonsofCraftBrewers, do so now.
I would suggest drinking before and after the game at one of the many establishments within walking distance of Scottrade, as - much like at Busch Stadium - beer is not cheap at the game.
On second thought, just buy a Kegerator and get it over with.