In the world of sports, resiliency is tossed around as often as a trade rumor. The idea that something without quantifiable statistical background can exist on a sports team isn't an easy thing to grasp. People think of it as a traffic cop pushing a narrative through rush hour. It's preached and tossed on top of a team like an extra slice of cheese on a grilled cheese double deck. What if it sticks though?
The definition of resiliency: a quality in objects to hold or recover their shape, or in people to stay intact. This is a kind of strength. If you bend a fork and it bends right back — that's resiliency. A car that is in an accident only has a few scratches has resiliency: it holds up and keeps its shape. (taken from Vocabulary.com)
Think about it. The Blues haven't been dealt minor injuries this season. They've been dealt monstrous blows, shots to the kidney in the middle of a ring. The grueling sport of hockey claims as many game lives as football, but this season is something else. Let's look at the worn out trainers notebook.
Jaden Schwartz: Broke his ankle and missed 49 games
Paul Stastny: Broke his foot and missed 14 games
Kevin Shattenkirk: Knee injury and missed 10 games
Alex Pietrangelo: Missed three weeks
Jake Allen: Missed six weeks
Steve Ott: Tore his hamstring on December 5th(still out)
Alex Steen: Hurt his arm/shoulder in February and still out
Patrik Berglund: Hurt his shoulder in August, didn't play until January 2nd
Yet, the Blues currently stand four points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the Western Conference lead and are among the top five teams in the NHL.
The Blues have the ability to return to their original shape no matter what happens to them. They can take a hit and keep on coming. Bend the Blues and they bend back and are able to skate, shoot and score just enough. They get pushed by big teams and push back, even if it takes Ryan Reaves banging skulls against the boards or Magnus Paajarvi(okay he missed a few games too) playing on the top line.
Despite facing the toughest schedule of any team except one after the All Star Break, the Blues are holding serve in the toughest division in hockey. They have no business being so high up in this conference, or do they?
Thanks to unreal goaltending work from Brian Elliott and aided by the return of Jaden Schwartz, the Blues have found many different unconventional ways to win. They won five games in a row. They've won seven of their last ten. They are a better road team than home team. Most people thought they would just curl up and die, and blame it on injuries, Ken Hitchcock, Doug Armstrong or Ken Hitchcock's pant suit. Instead, the Blues have played some of their best hockey over parts of the past four weeks. Lucky at times, exhausting during others, and always frustrating, the Blues keep winning.
Look at that 2-1 overtime win over the Kings a couple weeks ago. A brutally physical game that put both teams against the glass and the ice ended up on a full ice length breakaway goal from Schwartz after Elliott made the save of the year. You may ask yourself, "I'd never seen a long breakaway or Elliott make such an amazing glove stop" before that game. Well, this team is doing those kind of things this year. They are resilient. Tough. Able to soldier on without making excuses.
KSDK Sports Frank Cusumano recently compared the 2015-16 Blues to the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals. Each team took enormous hits and finished among the best. It is a fine comparison and one that carries the bitterness and the sweetness of memory and foreshadowing. You see, that Cardinals team played amazing albeit frustrating baseball until the second game of the playoffs before they were outgunned by the Cubs.
Will the Blues play amazing the rest of the way and get to mid April and forget how to score again? They only manage 2.5 goals per game as it is, among the least of the eight conference playoff teams. Can they score enough to push deeper into the playoffs? No matter how well they play or hard they struggle, it's hard to not think about the playoffs with this team. They will most certainly get in but how they will do. Will the resiliency be strong enough to push past the first round or will it April blue balls all over again with this team? Such an interesting question.
Does the team need more scoring? Unless Dmitrj Jaskin comes back and turns into the stud he was last year, I think they do need help in that department. You can't keep a straight face and say they are set offensively.
Will this resilient team produce a different result come April or will a great story fizzle when it matters most? There are 16 games left folks. Strap in for a wild, entertaining and uneasy ride. The Blues never make it easy but when it's game time on March 6th and the Blues have 83 points, one must tip their cap to the supreme resiliency shown on the ice.
Are they the most resilient Blues team ever? That may be debatable, but this 2015-16 group is tough as nails. A band of misfit toys somehow finding a way to win no matter what happens.
(Don't hurt yourself reading this)