The Blues looked like they could pull off a win in game two, didn’t they? For the first time since the start of the playoff bubble, they looked like their tenacious selves - they fought back, and Jaden Schwartz’s game-tying goal with seven seconds left probably made most Blues fans think that the slump was about to be busted.
And then Bo Horvat happened. Again.
Small mistakes, lax defense, bad decisions, all of that crept back in an overtime period. You can’t correct course after a goal’s scored after regulation, at least not in that game. You can, however, correct course in the next game.
It’s unfortunate that the Blues’ M.O. this postseason has turned into “steady improvement” instead of “winning a game,” but that’s where the team is. They know what they need to do to win - if they didn’t, frankly, they’d be sitting at home right now watching the games on TV. They’re “defiant” about their chances in tonight’s game, and that’s good. They shouldn’t roll over and tuck their tail between their legs - there are at least still two games to go in this series.
There’s some danger in defiance when you’re basing it around what you accomplished in the past. Captain Alex Pietrangelo told ESPN.com’s Greg Wyshynski:
“We had a lot of noise last year, and look what we did. It’s a new year, obviously. We don’t want to keep dwelling on last year, but the core of this group went through that together. We know how to bounce back from these things.”
From the same article:
“It wasn’t our year last year up to January either, and we found a way to turn it around,” said winger David Perron, referencing the fact that the Blues were in last place midway through last season before winning the championship. “It doesn’t matter what people say on the outside. What matters is how we play and what we believe in this room.”
“We don’t want to keep dwelling on last year.”
Then stop bringing it up.
Last year is important. Last year speaks to the strength of the core of this team, and it gives the players a touchstone to look at when they get behind the 8 ball. This season, these playoffs, are not last year. They know what you can do, but last season doesn’t matter if they don’t do it. Last season exists in, pardon the phrase, a bubble. This season is this season, these playoffs are these playoffs.
What goalie will be in net tonight? Who knows as of this writing, but debate is moot until the Blues fix their defense and penalty kill. It’s not just the defensemen who are culpable, but lapses like what led to Horvat’s game winner on Friday are inexcusable, especially when committed against two players (if you include Quinn Hughes, which you should) who burned the Blues in game one and were in the process of burning them in game two.