Wait, did you really expect that to be easy?
St. Louis Blues fans who thought packing 100,000 people in downtown St. Louis for some early history-making obviously can’t sing the blues. Remember you can’t force the good times down the future’s throat; they must come out of nowhere, unforeseen by the people who stay up all night looking for them.
Duping yourself is one idea to avoid the realization that things won’t be easy. I went on SB Nation radio about 20 minutes before Sunday’s game, giving a ballsy prediction of a 4-3 Blues win, anchored by a Vladimir Tarasenko overtime winner, which would set off an explosion of joy on Market Street.
And then Tarasenko ghosted the team in Game 6, missing the goal with shots and peppering Tuukka Rask with weak attempts when his pucks actually found flesh.
To be honest, I almost believed my prediction, trying to digest it like the shitty pasta your grandmother makes before spitting it out when she goes to refill her wine glass. I told the fine people on that radio show what they wanted to hear. A St. Louis writer doing his best Al Pacino impersonation with a resounding “HOOHAA!” I really got close to believing it.
Deep down, I felt doom. The Boston Bruins weren’t going down so easily. After all, these guys vanquished the last two three teams who tried to push them around. You got Zdeno Chara out there walking around the Undertaker, barely breathing and being unable to eat solid foods all week. You have Brad Marchand’s ratty-looking yet slick playing ass stopping, turning, or spinning like a top around Blues defenders like helpless traffic cones being fooled by a sports car. Rask standing in net like he had concrete barriers sealing off the glaring holes located on each side of his torso and above his shoulders.
It all looked bad early on, and when the first goal went in, I just closed my eyes and calmly said fuck. When the second goal went in, my dad moaned about the Blues doing nothing right and why it was so shocking. “Dad, the Bruins are GOOD.” That is why it looked that way. One of the devious things about being a diehard fan is you are blinded by the light of possibility, unable to see the semi-truck roaring towards you out of nowhere. You’re the quarterback who doesn’t see the rush from the defensive end; the skater who goes across ice with his head down, sure that a concussion doesn’t await him.
Fans wanted a Cup so desperately that they forgot the Bruins were there for a reason. Boston is a very good team, capable of wrecking dreams and causing stomach aches. These aren’t the Sharks in Game 6. They aren’t going down without a fight, and will not relent because their opposition has never won the big trophy. Heroes die in fairy tales all the time in real life.
The good guys don’t always win. The best team does, and Game 6 was a lot like Game 3. The score wasn’t as abysmal, but the feel of the game matched it just fine. The Blues played a good 8-10 minutes in the first period, saw a deficit, and proceeded to put out the shittiest performance since One Republic at Pops way back in the day. Talk about a studio making a band sound good. Damn!
The Bruins did everything better in Game 6. They kept the rebounds to a minimum, didn’t allow the Blues to set up shop in front of Rask that often, and dominated the middle of the ice. The transition zone looked like Times Square on a Saturday afternoon for the Blues, because the Bruins did everything to disrupt their flow. When the Blues did get in close, Rask was there to say, “no way.” He outplayed Jordan Binnington, who played solid yet unspectacular in net. Remember when I said if Binnington can outplay Rask, the Blues can win. That still holds.
Did the fans deserve to boo after that effort? Yes. The Blues played like shit. Highly paid professionals tried their best, but didn’t play well, so the crowd didn’t enjoy it and let them hear it. These players aren’t wet behind the ears; they can handle the heat. If not, they wouldn’t be in this kitchen when it is this warm inside.
Should we blame the St. Louis Post Dispatch social media intern for sending something out prematurely? Not seriously. Have some fun, but show some common sense. Superstition is about as useful as assumption. It does more harm than good. Hitting “send” had little to do with being unable to execute a game plan or overcome another’s team plan.
Everything wasn’t awesome for the Blues on Sunday, but it still can be on Wednesday. If there’s one thing this team does well, it’s respond to a turd of a performance. I’ve seen it too many times since the January resurgence to pour too much grief on one game. Look at the effort in Game 4 as opposed to Game 3. It was night and day, ladies and gentlemen. The Blues are nails on the road, and always come back angry yet focused after a deflating defeat. Like a boxer getting knocked down, you learn something on the canvas or lie there and get counted out.
News Flash: The Blues haven’t been counted out yet, but it sure is getting dark soon.
So the deed in Boston on Wednesday. Let the fans think a comeback is in order, and wreck the fucking parade that is being planned around Bean Town right now. You bet your ass they are staging things and preparing for a Blues collapse. The Blues can return the favor, and make out like a thief in the night, celebrating in the Garden, like the vigilantes that Bruce Cassidy and 99% of Boston think they are.
Do what the Red Sox did to the Cardinals in 2004: Celebrate on their turf. They ended a supposed curse during that fateful fall night at the old Busch Stadium. The Blues can end their supposed curse or drought in Boston, turning the tables. That would be a true killing.
Win or lose, it’ll all be over in 72 hours, unless the two teams play into the late morning in Game 7. Soon enough, there will be peace of mind or massive celebration. And I’m ready for it. I’m tired. This season seemingly started back in July when the team came together with their big moves. The regular season was the official launch, but the anticipation after Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, and Pat Maroon came on board started this train down the tracks last summer.
Here we are, over 11 months later, waiting for an answer to the inevitable question that has both excited and haunted the team: Is this the year the demons die? Don’t think you’ll get back there next year, because teams rarely do. Don’t ride the “down and out on New Year’s Day” story too hard. Take what comes and move on. But please, fucking win.
Win the whole fucking thing. Do it for ... ah shit, you know by now. Like I said, I’m tired.
Remember this: The Blues made it all the way to the final possible game. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Wow. I didn’t bet on that back on Oct. 1. Yet here we are.
It all ends Wednesday. The Blues played like shit on Sunday, but that doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is the next game. And it’s the final one, so get it right.
There will be no more St. Louis Game Time papers this summer.
There will be no more Charles Glenn anthems.
There still can be a Stanley FUCKING Cup.
Sheesh! I’d buy more bourbon.