When it comes to the St. Louis Blues, nothing is easy. They make winning look as hard as drivers make merging onto the highway during rush hour traffic. If you ever wonder why Blues fans drink so much, look at the utter case of blue balls this team presents every single season.
When was the last time they swept a playoff series? 18 years ago, the Blues swept the Dallas Stars in the Conference Semifinals. In fact, they’ve only won a series 4-1 or better eleven times in franchise history.
The 2018-19 season is no different. After flatlining on New Year’s Day, the Blues stormed back into the race, nearly winning the division. After taking the first two games in gritty fashion in Winnipeg of this quarterfinals series, the Blues put up a couple shitty performances at home, getting outscored 8-4, losing Game 4 in agonizing overtime fashion. They were up 1-0 on a Vladimir Tarasenko rocket, but lost the lead and the game, deflating the momentum gathered in the opening road portion of the series.
Why? First, the Blues will live up to their name. As my good friend, Joe Moskus, said, just look at their name and background. Second, certain players simply aren’t doing their job. Are they trying? Yes. Every hockey player tries. You couldn’t be a hockey player and NOT try. Come on.
These three players need to cut the shit and start producing.
After dazzling in the regular season and collecting his first career hat trick, Barbashev has gone missing in the playoffs. Four games, an average of 12:30, and ONE shot on goal. I get the fact that fourteen minutes as a high in the series doesn’t allow you to take it over, but the Blues need as much help as they can get in this series. The Jets are stacked offensively, and the Blues’ secret ingredient is depth scoring. Outside of Oskar Sundqvist’s breakout in Game 2, the fourth line has been quiet. That must change. The Blues need more goals from unexpected sources.
There’s effort and grit, and then there’s execution. After spending a fair portion of the season in neutral or worse, Schwartz has a single point through four games. He’s got eight shots on goal, hasn’t looked bad on the forecheck, and seems to be close at times, but the Blues simply need more from him. Mainly, a goal would suffice. You can nitpick certain reasons for my selection, but if there is one player I’ve shouted out loud since December to do more, it’s Schwartz. In 69 games, he put up 36 points. That’s fine if you are Patrik Berglund. The Blues need more from Schwartz.
What in the ass, dude?! Schenn is tied with me for points in this series. He has two penalty minutes and zero points. I don’t use plus/minus as a measuring stick, but for fun’s sake, Schenn is -3 out there thus far. He’s skating on a line with Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly, who haven’t been stellar this season in their own right, but certainly look better than the former Philadelphia Flyer. While he wasn’t as productive as the 2017-18 season, it’s hard to argue too much with Schenn’s regular season. 17 goals, 54 points, and 12 power play points. He was streaky, but really clicked with Tarasenko and O’Reilly.
These days, he’s downright negligent. He’s out there skating around like a lost child at a carnival who lost his kettle corn and watched a bigger kid steal the caramel apple off his stick. It’s one thing to not grow a beard because you have the baby-laced skin of a middle school prat, but it’s quite another to produce nothing when your team needs it most. He makes big boy bucks like Schwartz, so score a damn goal, dude.
There are others who need to step up their game, but these are the three I look at the most. The defense has looked problematic at times, but it’s often a product of bad decision making from the forwards. Hello, Zach Sanford. Joel Edmundson has a couple points, a good rating, solid coverage, and is putting shots on goal. Polarizing homeboy Pat Maroon has looked like an animal out there. Tarasenko has two huge goals. O’Reilly has been all over the place. Jordan Binnington hasn’t looked stellar, but overall solid, and he did his best to steal Game 4.
Frankly, I’d expect more out of Jake Allen, who just sits at the end of the bench with a hat on the entire game. What’s going on there, Snake?
The Blues aren’t out of it, but are staring down the barrel of another six game playoff series exit. They do this all the time. Get fans aroused, work up the excitement, and then turn on a sleepy French film, and put everyone to sleep. The momentum is dead, the lead is gone, and the Jets are smelling blood in the water.
It is the Blues who now have their backs against the wall heading into Game 5 tonight. What are they made of? For all the talk about playing with house money, there is the fair portion of the fanbase that wonders if this team will win a cup in their lifetime. When will the Blues not look overmatched? When will they not look like a team that is missing something?
What’s the tale of the tape, Blues? You may have a great story to tell this year, but what’s the ending look like? Sweet, bitter, or a shrug?
It’s time for Barbashev, Schwartz, and Schenn to wake up and do something.