I get accused of being a pessimist.
I get it, people don't like have their Cheerios shat in so when someone comes along and does exactly that, it's only natural to write the person off as a doom-and-gloom naysayer.
Well friends, I am not a pessimist. I am a realist, but I am going to shit in your Cheerios.
Like we do every year, Blues' nation is getting our collective hopes up. And when the team falls miles short of post-season success AGAIN, our collective hearts will break and many a sad song will be written.
I am trying to spare you that misery.
There is no hope. The Blues are going to lose.
Probably in the first round to the Hawks.
"What the hell?" you ask.
"Stop being an ass," you insist.
Well, allow me to enlighten you. Let's start first at what the leading residence of Unicornsandglitterville are saying when they predict a Blues win.
My esteemed colleague HullandOats85 wrote an article yesterday, hanging his confidence on a few points:
- The season series. As HO85 points out, the Blues took 3 out of 5 from the Hawks. That should bode well, right? Well, the Blues needed extra innings for all 3 wins (whereas the Hawks won their 2 in regulation) and 2 of those games required intense last minute heroics to pull off. Not a recipe for success against a playoff proven team like the Hawks.
- The 2014 playoffs against the Hawks. The logic is, we came on strong until indifference and immaturity bit us in the ass. The reality is, we struggled out of the game and relied on late game heroics to win the 2 games we won. Funny thing how unreliable the 'last minute comeback' game plan can be. In truth, we outplayed and out-corsi-ed the Hawks in 4 of those 6 games. Problem is, our offense had no staying power. We got rattled, took stupid shots and even stupider penalties and lost. Against a more mature and experienced Hawks team that is only MORE mature and experienced now. Us? Yeah...we have Troy Brouwer. My point is, we are just as susceptible to melting down this year as we were last year and the year before against the Hawks.
- The players. HO85 cites the success Vladimir Tarasenko had against the Hawks and the emergence of Robby Fabbri as well as Brian Elliott's solid play. Well...we had Tarasenko the last 2 years. We had most of our current crop of forwards the last 2 years, and our offense proved eternally impotent. The only real X-factor is Fabbri, so let's take a look at him. 18G-19A-37PT is a solid rookie year, so it isn't unreasonable to expect him to have an impact. How much of an impact is the question... Well, 2 years ago we had a hot young rookie named Vladimir Tarasenko. His stat line that year was 21G-22A-43PT. He was older, more mature and he scored more points in about 10 fewer games. His impact in the playoffs that year? 4 goals in 6 games. So, even IF Fabbri can produce at a Tarasenko-like clip, he probably isn't going to be a series changer. In fact, the Blues have LESS offensive depth than we had the last 2 years. This year we have 8 players over 10 goals, in '15 and '14 we had 9. This year we have 2 over 20 goals, in '15 we had 4 and in '14 we had 5. It's not a lot worse, but it IS worse.
So, I don't put a lot of faith in HO85's faith.
Let's look at some other people who have predicted the Blues to pull it off.
Adrian Dater predicts the Blues in 7 in his Bleacher Report predictions. His arguments?
- He says we have more 'internal toughness' than in recent years. Tough to quantify, but let's look at comebacks as an acceptable proxy. This year our winning percentage when trailing after 2 periods was 23.3% vs 29.2% last year. How about our ability to hang tough and hold leads? Winning percentages this year when leading after 1 or 2 periods is 80.0% and 82.4% respectively compared to 80.8% and 84.2% last year. Not a lot worse, but not a demonstration of 'more internal toughness.'
- He cites Duncan Keith's absence from game 1 and our relative health. That may help...in game 1. Remember, we won games 1 and 2 last time we did this dance with the Hawks.
- Lastly he says our defensive system is 'better.' Well, this year we gave up 10 fewer goals than the Hawks and 1.1 fewer shots against per game. Which might be comforting until you see that 2 years ago we had given up 24 fewer goals than the Hawks and .8 shots fewer against per game and it didn't make a bit of difference. The problem is, this team is not the same team in the post season. We under perform, so any statistical advantage we may appear to have in the regular season must be normalized to reflect that. All things considered, saying we have a better defensive system is at best a debatable opinion and at worst, an irrelevant door prize.
One last try...
David Satriano has a piece on NHL.com arguing that the Blues will not only beat Chicago, but will win the Stanley Cup. Check it out, it will make you feel good for a minute. Then come back here and get your dose of reality.
- He focuses on defense and goal-tending. This year we have a good defense, with 197 goals against and a 51.98 Corsi. Last year we also had a good defense with 197 goals against and a 51.68 Corsi. The year before that when we faced the Hawks we were even better with 188 goals against and a 53.13 Corsi. Remind me again how well those 2 years worked out.
- His other main argument is 'the Hitchcock factor.' He references the Cock's ranking on the all-time win list (4th) and his Stanley Cup winning experience (17 years ago). We better hope all-time wins and Stanley Cup experience aren't key factors, since Quenneville is 2nd on that all-time list and has a couple more Cup rings, and much more recently. If Coaching is the deciding factor, the Blackhawks win another Cup.
- He garnishes his argument by giving the Blues a special teams advantage...except that the Hawks had the better power play and scored more than twice as many short-handed goals.
- Lastly, he calls us a 'deep group' which may be true, but it is less true than in years past when failure was our fate and the Hawks are even deeper.
One other Bleacher Report columnist - who actually predicts the Hawks to win - says the Blues could win if the goalie steals it. The Blues have won several games this year due almost exclusively to the efforts of Elliott or Allen, so I can almost buy that argument. Except, we've tried that approach before as well and failed, In 2013, Elliott played some damn good hockey in the playoffs posting a .919 SV% and a 1.90 GAA and it was good enough for a 1st round exit in 6 games.
Miller was terrible 2 years ago against the Hawks, but the Hawks outscored us by 5 goals in 6 games...is Elliott able to be a full goal against per game better than Miller was every game this series? I would love to say yes...but for the realist thing.
There you have it folks. This team is comprised of the same basic bunch of guys who have under-performed in 4 straight postseasons. We are less deep, less offensively capable, less defensively sound and every bit as immature and inexperienced as we have been in the last few seasons.
The Blues are trying basically the same thing that has failed a few times now, and expecting a different result. I believe we have a word for that...
But that's why I'm here...because we don't have to try the same thing. Don't be crazy. Don't hope. Don't dream. Whatever you do, DON'T SHIT-TALK your Hawks fan friends.
The Blues are going to lose in the first round. Don't say I didn't warn you.