The Blues blew a perfect chance to go up on the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. They blew a good chance on Sunday, too, but that game was nearly irredeemable. The Blues looked like the team that the Jets took it to in the first half of the season - their defense was atrocious. The offense was there, sure - but it doesn’t matter if you score three goals when you let the Jets put up six on you.
The team promised to come out firing on Tuesday night, and they did. That first period was a demonstration of how the team is more than capable of playing, and how they hadn’t played until that point during the season. After the Blues didn’t put a goal past Connor Hellebuyck in the first, they took their foot off of the gas. Tarasenko scored a power play goal for the second game in the row, but the rest of the team’s top players were MIA, and it showed. Yes, the Blues won 61% of their faceoffs, and yes they out-hit the Jets, but the shot totals and the possession dropped almost the second they hit the ice in the second period. The Blues went from getting 10 shots on goal to Winnipeg’s five, to splitting the difference at 14 in the second, to almost just straight-up ceasing to play in the third, getting doubled up 15-7.
You can see it in the two teams’ corsi as the game went on.
And so, we’re having a six game series instead of a four or five game series, which is what this thing just as easily could be. No one expected it to be a fast one. The two teams are evenly matched, yada yada yada.
But hear me out - the Blues haven’t played well. It’s not that their strong effort has been matched every step of the way by Winnipeg’s. The Blues have yet to play an entire game, and that’s why they’ve frittered away a two game lead in the series a-la the last time they went up 2-0 on an opponent in the first round. Sure, 80-odd percent of teams that go up 2-0 in a series win, but the Blues fall on the other side of that spectrum, too.
This is a different team than the one that lost in 2015 to the Wild. But for some reason, the same problems persist in this team from year to year, and that’s the inability to consistently finish, the inability to put their foot on the neck of their opponent. When the Blues just need to get a series out of the way, they have an uncanny ability to stretch it to six or seven games when it could just as easily be five, and that’s what’s happening here.
The Blues need to continue the dominance that they’ve had at the MTS Centre this season and bring the series back to St. Louis on Saturday with a chance to finish it - and then end it. The only way that can happen is if the team plays a full, consistent 60 minute game. If they don’t, you can expect a struggle to the end.