A bald-headed guy named Dom once told his crew, “ride or die!” Granted, these were criminals wearing surfer clothing while repeating four-worded sentences with “bruh” mixed in, but the phrase holds well for the St. Louis Blues with 18 days and ten games left in the 2017-18 season. Oh boy, oh boy, what is this team made of?
A new reality is settling in across the league. Playoff stalwarts like the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers won’t be in the playoffs for the first time in a while. The Vegas Golden Knights may win the Western Conference in their inaugural season, which simply isn’t fair, but then again, neither are countless unwarranted sequels.
The Boston Bruins may be banged up and allowing a few more goals than desired, but they are still 45-26 before puck drop tonight. But that doesn’t really matter. At this point, the Blues have to win just about every game. They fucked around too much in January and February, lollygagging through shitty opponents, and wasting opportunities to pad their record.
A year ago, their current record would hand them a playoff berth, but the Central Division had changed. While the Hawks have blacked out for the time being, other teams have stepped up. The Predators, Jets, Stars, Wild, and Avalanche all have more wins than the Blues. They all look better right now than the Blues. The only team worse than St. Louis? Coach Q’s United Center dwellers. Times have changed. What are the Blues going to do about it?
In the words of numerous superheroes, they probably won’t make it. If you need overtime to beat the Rangers and Blackhawks, you probably won’t stand a chance against Boston, Columbus, or San Jose. Jake Allen’s two solid games against Los Angeles and Anaheim were followed by forgettable work against New York and Chicago. The only reason he’ll start tonight is Alex Pietrangelo, whose ten points over the past five games helped the Blues win four of them. Buy Alex a drink, Jake.
Vladimir Tarasenko missing tonight’s game potentially is a problem to any logical thinking hockey mind. While Alex Steen has come out of his cryotherapy session, I want Tarasenko on the dot with the trigger cranked. For all the critics who think he’s having a down year, let me remind you that the man has 27 goals, 31 assists, and a +14 rating. Tarasenko’s Corsi For and Fenwick For percentages are as high as previous years and he was on pace for the highest shot total of his young career. Like 95% of the team, he’s just off more often than not lately. So please cut the shit and get off Tarasenko’s back.
I will admit that the year Tarasenko actually gets a valuable center in Brayden Schenn, after years of toiling with Jori Lehtera, he will have his lowest point total of his career.
A few words about Patrik Berglund. Your weak wrist shot found the back of the net a guy named Berube, but don’t think you are out of the overpaid, shitty doghouse. Go out there and fight for every minute of ice time you receive. If your number is called over Tage Thompson, make sure it was the right decision.
Mike Yeo, don’t be afraid to fire missiles at anyone on this team. I don’t care how talented Jaden Schwartz is. He better keep producing. Steen may be the oldest Blue, but if he can act young again, that’d be nice. Keep your coaches in line, even if they may one day take your job. Do what needs to be done. Don’t worry about rocking the boat; it’s been shoved plenty since Jan. 1.
In years past, we’ve seen a resilient Blues team fight back against injuries, adversity, and better teams. They’ve reached down deep and surprised us and broke our hearts way too often. Think of last year’s team. Dead on arrival in January and winning a playoff round in April. Things can change quickly in hockey.
As Fast Eddie Felson would say, the puck can roll funny for everybody. A lucky bounce or roll here or there, a couple games could be won.
The Blues need more than a few lucky puck movements to make the playoffs. They need consistency on every end of the ice.
- They need more than a couple good games from Jake Allen, or whoever tends the net. This isn’t the “a couple decent saves late” or “good enough” league. The Blues don’t score enough to ride average goaltending.
- They need Tarasenko back soon doing what he does best. Firing pucks on net, setting up in the zone, and soaking up coverage from the other team.
- They need Schenn to make Steen look good.
- They need Pietrangelo to continue being a very bad man.
- They need Colton Parayko to stop falling asleep in the defensive zone. You’re a man in an R-rated slasher flick, dude. Seek and fucking destroy.
- They need Vince Dunn to keep playing like he’s been in the league six years.
- They need to let Angella Sharpe do ALL OF THE FUCKING Scottrade hosting duties. Yep, that lady needs more shifts. If not, I’ll show the Blues what “MAKE SOME NOISE” is all about.
- They need Vladimir Sobotka to be a fucking pest. I’m talking John Turturro in Miller’s Crossing pest. Just don’t get shot.
The Blues have ten games left and need to win at least eight of them, earning points in the other team. They are three points behind the second wildcard team this morning. Find a way to beat Boston and make David Backes quietly crack a smile in the press box.
It’s simple, Blues. Just fucking win.
I’ll buy more bourbon.
PS: Please check out the St. Louis Game Time paper today. Brad Lee wrote a great piece using the Glengarry Glen Ross speech and there’s also a piece in there about Pietrangelo by some bald-headed South City maniac. Get subscribed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org