My fellow Blues fans are down in the dumps. The team has no momentum, fans have no confidence, and we’re heading into the best thing sports has to offer: a Stanley Cup Playoffs Game Seven.
There’s nothing like it in all of sports. It’s absolutely the best, but we’re looking back at a dismal recent playoff history and thinking there’s no way the Blues can win.
We’d all be fired up if the Blues had WON Game Six to tie the series with the Blackhawks at three games apiece.
I completely understand why there’s no confidence (because I feel that way, too), but I can give you some reasons to at least feel OK.
Our friends at PuckReport.com point out in NHL playoff history, 277 teams have had 3-1 leads, and 249 have won.
That’s right, 28 of 277 teams, or just ten percent, have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. It takes a ton of energy to climb the mountain to get back to even. And Chicago has expended a ton of energy.
Also, as they write at Puck Report, “it’s worth noting that in the ten postseasons since the 2004 NHL Lockout, nine teams have squandered a 3-1 series lead only to stave off elimination by winning Game 7. They are Carolina (2006), Vancouver (2007), Montreal (2008), Philadelphia (2008), Carolina (2009), Vancouver (2011), San Jose (2011), Boston (2013) and Los Angeles (2014). Six of these games were decided by one goal and five in overtime.”
In addition to that note, we should point out that the Blues last three-game losing streak occurred in late February, when they lost games 62, 63 and 64 to San Jose, the Rangers and Nashville. In the 82 game schedule, they had two three game losing streaks and a five gamer. So in their regular season, a three game skid certainly was atypical.
The historical takeaway? That the Blues still have a chance to eliminate Chicago, and if they do, it’s going to be in spine tingling, dramatic fashion.
I don’t have trouble with Ken Hitchcock rolling four lines and not running his players, specifically Vladimir Tarasenko, into the ground. If the Blues are to advance past this round, they’re going to need fresh players. However, there really isn’t a good reason for Tarasenko to be on the bench for a power play. He’s obviously the Blues’ best weapon, and I get why he was upset Saturday night at the second period’s end.
Speaking of that second period, It’s bewildering the Blues can just quit playing for a period or a game.
It happened in game four at Chicago and the Blues were bailed out by Brian Elliott. It happened last year against Minnesota, in games two and three. It happened the year before against Chicago in games three and six. How a team with Stanley Cup aspirations can just stop playing at points during the playoffs is beyond me. It very well could be coaching and probably is. But there must be an inherent lack of motivation among some players on this team. Obviously, no team with those issues will ever win a Stanley Cup.
Do I expect the Blues to win? No.
Jonathan Toews lives for games like this, and he took over last year in game seven at Anaheim, leading a blowout win that propelled the ‘Hawks to the Stanley Cup Finals. Corey Crawford has been there before, Joel Quenneville has, and Chicago has extraordinary high-level talent.
But the Blues have a goalie that has allowed more than two goals in back to back games two times in 2016. Since the New Year, Elliott has 34 games and allowed more than two goals twelve times. Unfortunately, three of those times have been the Blues last three games. He hasn’t looked as solid, especially in game six, but we know Elliott has it in him.
The Stars eliminated Minnesota and feel like Chicago is a better matchup for them than the heavy, tough Blues are. With the Kings being knocked out by San Jose, a win over Chicago would give the Blues a great opportunity against a conference that would have five of the last six Stanley Cup champs eliminated in the first round.
But if the Blues lose, get ready for a tumultuous off-season.
Ken Hitchcock and his staff would almost certainly be let go, and the roster would be subject to dramatic turnover. Some people think even General Manager Doug Armstrong would be vulnerable. It’s safe to say that unrestricted free agents David Backes, Troy Brouwer, Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scotty Upshall would not be back. Because of the need to sign Jaden Schwartz, Elliott, Jake Allen and Colton Parayko, who all have expiring contracts in the next two years, there’s going to be a need for salary cap room. Major changes would be forthcoming.
Game seven is one of the biggest games in Blues history. If they win, they exorcise first round and Chicago demons, and get a chance to play another round. If they lose, major changes loom and we’ll see a different Blues team next October.