Due to the lockout it has been a remarkably fast paced and action filled season in the NHL this year. There is just one month remaining in the regular season before teams begin competing in arguably the most storied post-season tournament in all of sports, the Stanley Cup playoffs. And as the season dwindles down fans here in St. Louis have certainly become “Blue” about their team’s play and their chances at the Cup.
Coming off a season last year that saw a young Blues team come together and showcase their long awaited skills there was an abundance of hype. In 2011-12 the Blues not only reached the playoffs for the first time in three years but won the Central division title for the first time in over a decade. They featured a balanced scoring attack with seven players scoring at least 15 goals and were carried by the record setting duo of Jaro Halak and Brian Elliott in net. The Blues kept all their pieces intact this summer and were ready to take the next step it appeared.
This season got off to a great start with a 6-1 record but since then the Blues have struggled. And the fans are impatient about it. The blame is being thrown around and once again fans hopes appear to be diminishing for a Blues playoff run.
However what fans need to realize is that this is a talented team, capable of putting it together. As we have seen in recent years it is all about playing good at the right time. Anyone remember the L.A. Kings last spring? A #8 seed rolling through the playoffs and on their way to a Stanley Cup. And why did the Kings pull that off? No fans it is not because the Kings all of a sudden made a trade at the start of the playoffs, or changed their style. It was because they got hot goaltending, got confidence and were the hot team.
Now I don’t want to sugarcoat the Blues. They still have their problems. Their power play, while still ranked 5th in the NHL, has been struggling lately. Their goaltending has allowed some weak goals and is not the same force it was last year. (But really did anyone honestly think that all of sudden Halak and Elliott were going to be an All-Start tandem or maybe just maybe did they just have one of those years).
Still with those issues the Blues have more than enough to make a run in the playoffs. They are currently 7th in the league in scoring, when they were 22nd last year, that should off-set the weaker goaltending right there. The key is momentum. The goalies need to just keep the Blues in the game, not allowing weak goals, to keep the team’s confidence up. This is a young team, with a lot of talent. I think what they have lacked this year is the confidence. We have seen them dominate teams but too often its a different team each night. Could it stem from missing Jason Arnott or Jamie Langenbrunner? I don’t know.
All I know is that this team is not dead in the water people. They are currently in 7th place in the playoff picture yes but just four points out of 3rd place. The Blues have the defenseman, they have the scoring (balanced) and they have the coach. Now they just need the confidence, as a team and in net. Don’t give up on the Blues just yet. The Stanley Cup playoffs are the most evenly matched tournament in all of sports. So once you are in, anything can happen. Go BLUES!!!