Today is the last day of the qualifying and round-robin rounds. Nearly all of the opponents for the top four seeds have been decided - the one exception is the Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets series, which is going the full five games after a very un-Leafs like comeback on Friday.
Yesterday, the Vegas Golden Knights took the first overall seed in the West in a 4-3 overtime victory. The Philadelphia Flyers, one of the hottest teams in the league at the pause, took first in the East with a surprising 4-1 shellacking of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins and Capitals, two of the East’s powerhouse teams, are playing tonight for third and fourth seeding. The Bruins, much like the Blues, haven’t gotten a single point in the seeding round. The Blues aren’t in bad company today.
With a win, the Blues go on to play Calgary in the first round of the playoffs. With a loss, they play the Vancouver Canucks. Not playing better in the three game round-robin series cost the Blues an opportunity to play the Blackhawks or the Coyotes, the two teams many said shouldn’t be in the playoffs, let alone make it out of the qualifying round. The playoffs are never easy, but the Blues have played themselves into a much harder matchup than they needed to have.
Jeremy Rutherford over at the Athletic (subscription required) gave a run-down of the Blues’ failure to capitalize on what began as a decent game against the Golden Knights. The top line isn’t performing, with or without Vladimir Tarasenko. Three players are responsible for the team’s five goals in the round-robin, and only one of them is a top six forward. The defense was a sieve against Vegas. They were fine against Colorado, which overall wasn’t a terrible game. It was the offense that needed to get going - which it did. But apparently the defense and offense can’t work together during the same game, so the loss is what you get.
Today Jake Allen gets some work in net, and, fun fact, he’s really good in the playoffs:
Jake Allen is scheduled to become the 10th St Louis Blues Goalie with 20 Postseason starts today.— STL Blues History (@STLBlueshistory) August 9, 2020
Out of those 10 Goalies Allen has the best Save % and GAA of all Goalies in Blues Postseason history.
Chart is sorted by Save %.#stlblues pic.twitter.com/v1RrXm2tyM
He was also really good during the regular season, too. He hasn’t seen game action since March 11th, so he needs today. The goaltending isn’t what fans need to be concerned about. If the Blues go into round one without a win in the round-robin, that’s not a good sign. Does it matter much if they play either the Flames or Canucks? No. What matters is the fact that they’ve lacked intensity and have allowed themselves to skate through these games with minimal effort. That mindset can easily bleed over to round one.