“We’ve got to go home and win a game. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”
That was from head coach Craig Berube after the Blues 6-3 loss to Colorado on Wednesday evening. The score looks more lopsided than it was thanks to two Colorado empty net goals, but that doesn’t mean that the Blues played well all game. They did not. But near the end, they started to focus and click, and that could be enough to give the expanded crowd tonight some hope.
The Blues want to rely on that crowd to inspire their play, but if they don’t take advantage of the buzz, the crowd at Enterprise Center can go silent in a heartbeat. They could do it at full capacity; they can certainly do it tonight.
If the Blues had any magic to their play at any point in games one and two, thinking that they could parlay fan enthusiasm into a win would be reasonable. Tonight, they return home down 2-0 in a series that they weren’t even remotely favored to compete in, let alone win. And now they’re down two of their top six defensemen to boot.
Tyson Jost knocked Robert Bortuzzo out of the first period of the game Wednesday with a high elbow that warrants zero extra examination by the Department of Player Safety, apparently.
In the third period, Nazem Kadri knocked Justin Faulk to the ice with a hit to the head. Kadri’s in-person hearing is still pending, but he is a repeat offender for this offenese, especially in the playoffs, and should get at least five games. At least one Avs reporter has put their foot down, calling Kadri’s behavior “stupid and goonish” and calling for him to never play for the team again. Good luck getting the team to agree, because despite the suspensions, he’s a useful and talented hockey player. He’s turned into the Western Conference’s version of Tom Wilson.
Neither decision on either hit means a thing to the Blues, who are out both Bortuzzo and Faulk for tonight. They’re also out Jake Walman, who is still under COVID-19 protocols. And Vince Dunn? No concrete word on him yet either. That’s four defensemen, gone.
Oh, and the team’s leading scorer, David Perron? Still under protocol as well.
The Blues have dealt with injury all season, and it would be foolish to believe that it didn’t cause problems for the team. If it can cause problems over an extended period of time, it’s going to cause issues in the playoffs. Colorado is playing in a different gear; they were in game one, before Faulk and Bortuzzo were knocked out of play. They were in most of game two, and had Kadri not nailed Faulk, the Blues wouldn’t’ve been handed a chance to get back into it.
There’s zero reason to believe that the Avalanche won’t be playing in an even higher gear tonight and Sunday. The Blues are going to have to dig deep to compete, and that’s something they’re capable of. Whether or not that’s something that will happen remains to be seen.