The Blues have a hell of a stretch of games coming up. Not because they’re playing difficult opponents - the only (current) playoff team that they play are the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues have six games in nine days, and the teams that they play aren’t going to just roll over and scrape and bow to the Blues because they’re a playoff team. They’re going to push back.
The Blues aren’t in the playoffs yet. Yes, their route there is laughably easy at this point of the season: get a point, any way, in any game. They’re on a four game winning streak, after all. How hard can it be?
May I present to your the 2013-2014 St. Louis Blues?
They finished one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the Central Division win with 111 points. That’s not a bad thing! What is a bad thing is this:
After an 11-3-1 March, the Blues went 2-6-0 in April and closed the season out on a six game losing streak. These weren’t super close decisions, either. These were turds. The worst loss was probably the April 5th 4-0 loss at home against the Avalanche, where captain David Backes got frustrated and tried to fight a kid 11 years younger than he is. That frustration didn’t lead to a course correction, either. It just lead to worse play.
I’m not saying the Blues had a set of playoffs blinders on, but they didn’t focus on getting their shit taken care of in the regular season (they also didn’t focus on getting their shit taken care of in the playoffs, either, so there’s that).
This year’s team, though, doesn’t seem in danger of this issue. To a player interviewed in this piece from Tom Timmermann, they all seemed focused on now. They’re taking it game by game and looking for ways to improve now that hopefully will carry over into the postseason.
“We’re trying to catch Winnipeg, that’s the goal. We’re trying to catch Nashville and we’re trying to catch Winnipeg and keep pushing away. ... We’ve put ourselves in a good spot. We’re only four points back so we have to keep playing and keep winning.”
Getting that home ice advantage for the playoffs requires focusing on the now, not on the future. The Blues need to worry about the playoffs one round at a time, and if the past has shown us anything, when the team works off of this blueprint, they do well. Have they won the Cup yet? No, but getting there is half of the battle. Let’s focus on that for now.