Let's admit something to ourselves. The writing was on the wall after the first twenty minutes last night. This wasn't a case of "information overload" Blues. This was a case of "not give a shit" Blues.
That case of "not give a shit" is contagious. It seems that fans are catching it too.
After game three's 3-0, half-assed, 17 SOG loss, I sat on my couch, and I didn't care. I was angry for a fleeting second, on matter of principle, because I feel like I'm supposed to. But I expected this loss. I expected it after the first period, in which the team stood around, gobsmacked, as the Wild blew past them.
"You can't play 15-20 minutes against this team and expect to win games," Blues captain David Backes said. "We need a full 60-minute effort like we did in Game 2.
"We've got another chance on Wednesday to assert ourselves for a 60-minute game with 20 guys on the ice and get a job done. Another lesson. Put this behind us and know that it's a battle out there, it's a war and it's going to take a great effort every night against this team. Here we go looking to Wednesday now."
Oh, so you can't play 15 minutes against your playoff opponent and win? No way. Here's a question for you David: was there a point during the 45 minutes that you didn't play where someone went "oh, damn, we're not playing worth a shit. We need to step this up." Like maybe you? During an intermission, perhaps? Scrums after the whistle don't count as "play."
"They played a good game from the start," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said of the Wild. "We were slow from the start and they just stayed on top of us the whole game. We never really got back on top of it. They played a solid game at home and played with a lot of energy and we didn't have our best."
Again, at some point, did a light bulb not go off over someone's head?
"From our standpoint, everything was just too slow, too sloppy. Me especially, I was just very slow and not up to speed with my plays. That feeds through the whole team when something like that happens."
No, Shatty, it's not your fault. This isn't Outbreak, you're not a monkey. But thank you for taking some responsibility.
"I just think play for 60 minutes," he said. "We did that the second game and came out on top; we didn't in the first game and we didn't come out on top. Their team game is going to be there from the start to the finish. They battle, every single line. We realize that now. Can't let the ball slip anymore."
You realize that now? Didn't someone say something similar after game one?
"Would you like to play it differently? Yeah," Bouwmeester said. "Just get the puck, poke it out. But (stuff) happens. He’s a guy that’s good around the net. He’s not going to stop. That’s a perfect example of that. (Bad) play, my fault, whatever, but bottom line, we’ve got to play better."
I like to assume that "whatever" came from a place of frustration, like when I said "whatever" as I was turning the TV off.
And then there's this money quote from Ken Hitchcock:
"They did a good job," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They checked really hard; this is similar to what they did in Game 1. They checked us really hard and they got us to crack. Like I said, we did the right things early, got some pressure on them, and then started to try to make the next play."
"They checked really hard." I read that as "I don't really know what else to say so I'm going to pull this out of my ass as the reason that we lost. It wasn't because of the checking (though if you think that it is, please put Bortuzzo in Wednesday night or something). It was because hardly anyone played worth a damn, most players stood there with their heads up their asses (except for Alex Pietrangelo, who played a hell of a game), because you were using Steve Ott to center the top line - way to reward a string of dipshit "grit" plays that contributed nothing to the game. You continued to put Ott out there when the team needed a goal, yet only managed to play Dmitrij Jaskin 8:45. I'm sure there's something about him "needing to hit a reset button" or whatever somewhere. It probably has nothing at all to do with the fact that you favor your old players and your grit players over guys who at least are capable of some production.
It absolutely has nothing to do with the fact that you just threw darts at a depth chart to create your lines for the first two periods instead of going to proven lines that worked for most of the season. There are no injuries, Hitch. Go back to what works.
As it stands, the only thing that the Blues have learned this playoff series is the same thing that they learned the last three series coached by Hitch - what to say after a loss. It's ringing hollow. I have absolutely minimal faith that they'll be able to walk out of Minnesota with a split, but I do have faith that they'll have a quote about "playing a full 60" or some such shit like that after game four.
I also have faith that after these playoffs are over, I probably won't feel much in the way of disappointment or frustration. It's lather, rinse, repeat every year. Maybe instead of the shampoo, the Blues need to take a look at the stylists.