“This probably won’t be our year.”
Blues fans, tell me you haven’t heard that before. More likely than not, you’ve heard it too often. The finality of a Blues season once again not turning out the way some had hoped back in October. It doesn’t matter what expectations were-fans feel the same disappointment no matter what.
What transpired over the past week was classic Blues turmoil. After losing NINE out of ten games, the Blues stormed back. They kicked Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings’ ass before handing the wildcard contending Anaheim Ducks a well-timed loss. Hopes were hope, whiskey sours turned into pints of Busch beer, and people start walking back their “Blues are as dead as disco” statements.
Then, in a pivotal matchup with the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues came up miserably short on Thursday night at Scottrade in front of a packed house. 4-1 was the final score, even though shots favored the home team, 114-25. The Blues threw everything under and around the kitchen sink at the net, but Semyon Varlamov stopped all but one shot. He outplayed Jake Allen, who saw little spurts of action throughout the game.
The Blues weren’t flat. In fact, they were all over the ice, had the Avs on their heels most of the game, and had every opportunity to even the score. They weren’t as good at Colorado at capitalizing on opportunities.
Vladimir Tarasenko, whose non-explosive season is becoming a polarizing topic in St. Louis, fired over 12 shots on goal, eight of them hitting the net. The few he got on target were scooped up by Varlamov, who seemed to know where #91 was going. Tarasenko has more head shakes after whistles than the Blues had goals.
The lone goal belonged to a defenseman, Joel Edmundson, who made his return to the ice after missing a large stretch. The forwards had nothing to offer that meant anything. 45 actual shots and one goal. Blah. Meh. Shit. All of the above.
Ivan Barbashev continues to look better than Patrik “I’m really not here” Berglund and Vladimir “I’d rather be back in KHL” Sobotka, but gets less power play time than Dmitrj Jaskin, who managed an assist (which should send his 6 supporters into a frenzy).
Overall, the Blues simply didn’t look good enough to win or beat a good team. They try hard yet get little done. Overall on the season, they are 37-33 if you cut out the OT loss bullshit. Is that anything to celebrate?
The New York Rangers aren’t who they used to be, lurking near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings even with one of the best goaltenders in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. Then again, it’d be wrong to look past a team with a 32-39 record, because they are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and coming off a beating of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers would love to come into Scottrade Center tonight and ruin the Blues party on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Since Feb. 1, the Blues are 6-12, which is right next to bad and too far from good.
It’s getting late. The lights are about to shut off on the 2017-18 regular season, and the Blues are as inconsistent as ever, causing sportswriters like myself to repeat themselves and double back at the same time. I didn’t buy into the success of the LA/Anaheim wins, so one could say I haven’t turned around during this week’s redemption song.
Once March starts to turn into April, a hockey team needs to have their shit together. A year ago, the Blues were surging towards a few playoff victories. These days, they are looking at earlier tee times on the golf course.
It’s not all bad. The Blues have two games in hand over the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, and Ducks, who happen to be the three teams ahead of them in the wildcard hunt. Of the remaining 12 games, nine come against teams the Blues should be able to handle, including three against the Chicago Blackhawks.
In the end, you’re looking at a playoff miss or demolition derby styled first round exit. Fans will take it. Blues fans are conditioned to accept playoff access as overall team progress. They get that from the work ethic of Doug Armstrong and Tom Stillman, a tandem with plans few really know about or understand.
A playoff round win over the Blackhawks? Rock n’ roll!
A winter classic showcase. Yes!
A playoff series win after a coaching change. Yes!
Small victories without a big picture.
I don’t want the Blues to tank in order to select another potential superstar. I want them to win a fucking Stanley Cup sometime before my kid goes to college (he’s 6). I want a Cup.
How close are they to winning one? Not close.
How far away? Let me pour a drink first and answer that one later.
Hey, next year is Jay Bouwmeester’s last contract year, but guess what? Berglund and Sobotka’s deals endure for at least two more seasons.
I can promise you one thing around here. The Blues will break your heart. Every time. “Maybe next year” should turn into “Please before I Die”.
Does this all sound depressing? Sure. Welcome to St. Louis Blues hockey, a place where futility is not allowed, but the promised land is out of view.
The Blues are that guy out for a run. He sees other runners blazing past him and others move a little ahead of him, so he starts to speed up. The only problem is he lacks the proper sneakers and when he isn’t prepared for the brutal wind or wet terrain. He’s got the natural tools, but nothing extra to stand out.
Those are the St. Louis Blues.