Kevin Wheeler: Blues: How is this the same team we saw earlier?

No matter how many times I see the Blues win – especially now that they’re heading to the Western Conference Finals – I can never get over the fact that this is the same team that was dead last in the NHL in early January. How is this possible? Sure, Craig Berube’s coaching style seems to click better with the fellas than Mike Yeo’s did but even with that this run is wholly improbable.

This team was out of it for months. Blues fans were talking about the “Lose for Hughes” movement, we were all trying to figure out which veterans needed to get shipped off by the deadline and we were all thinking about who the next head coach (Coach Q????) would be.

Now we’re watching the same group of players move on to the Western Conference Finals  after an all-time classic in Game 7 against Dallas.

This is nuts!

What this turnaround shows us all is just how important psychology is in the world of sports…heck, in all walks of life really. When you doubt yourself, when you’re unsure or unhappy, it brings down your performance level. Talent is one thing, sure, but every team in the NHL has talent. The difference is between the ears. Who has the confidence to stay level and make plays regardless of the stakes? Who recovers more quickly from mistakes? Who really, truly believes?

That’s an interesting concept in sports, belief.

When I was in college my beloved Miami Hurricanes were a power house and so were the Florida State Seminoles. My freshman, on October 6th, 1990, the #9 Hurricanes handled the #2 Seminoles 31-22 at the Orange Bowl. Honestly, the game wasn’t really that close. The Canes handled it pretty easily.

After the game Florida State’s defensive captain (a senior linebacker whose name I can’t think of right now) was asked about the difference in the game. I’m paraphrasing a bit here but this is roughly what he said: “We got off the bus BELIEVING we were going to win this game. They (the Canes) KNEW they were going to win.”

The Blues are playing like the team that knows they’re going to get the job done. That’s not to say no doubt ever creeps in, of course it does. It’s also not to say that the power of belief isn’t all that strong. It is. But…when belief is backed up with the knowledge that you can do the thing you’re being asked to do, usually because you’ve had success doing that thing, then it’s the power of that belief becomes evident.

The Blues don’t just believe they’re good enough.

They know they’re good enough.

On to the Western Conference Finals!