While we close in to puck drop for game six against the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues fans are understandably antsy for a possible elimination. While fans are biting our nails and anxiously waiting for 8:45, the players are going about their daily routines. Our defending Stanley Cup champions are no strangers to adversity, and this isn’t their first rodeo in facing elimination.
As we saw last year in 2019, the Blues rose up to the occasion and beat the odds to ultimately lift Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time in franchise history. Of course this is a new year under MUCH different circumstances. However, the roster is essentially a clone of last year, minus Joel Edmundson, Jay Bouwmeester, Pat Maroon, and Robby Fabbri, and with the addition of Justin Faulk, Marco Scandella and Jacob de la Rose.
If you look at the opponents for game six, the Canucks’ roster has virtually no playoff experience, and a very young core group of players. Vancouver now faces the challenge to close out the series and not ‘choke’ under pressure. Game five was truly heartbreaking after the Blues gave up a two-goal lead, with having an unfortunate bounce off a linesman and an unlucky break (literally) on the power play. If you look past those misfortunes, St. Louis sustained constant pressure in Vancouver’s zone for majority of the game.
The formula for victory should be what the Blues do best: cycle the puck, finish their checks, and stay disciplined. We have seen the same theme through five games, where the Blues are consistently the better team five-on-five. They need to keep on cycling the puck in Vancouver’s zone to ultimately wear down their lines. St. Louis has also done a great job finishing their checks, and should keep it up. It’s very noticeable that Vancouver doesn’t have the same ‘jump’ as they did in the first two games of the series. Discipline was the deciding factor to why the Blues fell in a hole at the beginning of the round. Since game three, the team has done a fantastic job in killing the Canucks’ power play while also staying out of the box more. The Blues should continue to stay disciplined and force Vancouver to beat them at even strength.
Fellow fans, there’s still a lot of hockey to be played. So let’s all take a deep breath, and take this one game at a time.