Monday night, I was chatting with a friend who is a Jets fan. He was feeling worried about the outcome of the game heading into the third period - the Blues were up 3-1, and the Jets didn’t look as sharp as he wanted them to look during the first and second.
“Don’t worry,” I told him. “You’ll be fine.”
Entering overtime, he predicted a Blues’ win. “Just wait,” I said. “You don’t have much to worry about.”
Lo and behold, I predicted the outcome of the game, just like nearly every other Blues fan probably did when the clock started on the third period: a blown lead, an overtime loss, and points left on the table against a Central Division opponent that you just can’t afford to pull this with. This has been the story of the Blues’ 2-3-3 season so far. On paper it looks perfectly salvageable, and it is. But we all know that hockey isn’t played on paper, and that standings don’t show the whole picture. The Blues look like they had learned their lesson on Saturday night, and then forgot everything all over again on Monday.
Part of that forgetting came through the injury of Robert Bortuzzo - which is something the Blues will have to contend with again tonight. With no Bortuzzo in the line-up, Yeo had to slot Jay Bouwmeester back into the lineup. Monday night, Yeo leaned on Bouwmeester, especially down the stretch in the game. This was despite the fact that Bouwmeester, while not the only player at fault for the loss, played like he had lost a step and a half. He hasn’t been the same since last season’s injuries, and until he gets it straightened out, he’s a liability. Until Yeo gets it straightened out too, his reliance on Bouwmeester in high-importance situations is also a liability.
The Blue Jackets are 4-4-0 on the season so far, firmly in the middle of the packed Metro Division. The Blues outscored the Jackets 6-2 last year, with both games being St. Louis victories. Whether or not that carries over to this season depends on if the Blues have actually retained the lessons that they should’ve learned in Monday night’s loss to the Jets.
Robby Fabbri and Carl Gunnarsson should be back by November 1st against the Vegas Golden Knights. There’s still tonight’s game and Saturday night’s against the Blackhawks before that - the Blues don’t need to write those two games off, but you can’t blame the fans if we do.