The Blues have been riding a crazy roller coaster throughout the US and Canada over their current 6-game road trip that wraps up Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. This particular trip has seen some great play, but also a lot of weird bounces en route to the team gaining 6 out of a possible 10 points so far. Skeptics may think this is the sign of another implosion, but when analyzing the games, and the weird plays that have gone against the Blues one can see that the team is still playing well overall, they just need to keep their feet moving and play the game they know so well.
Why the Blues Need to Win in Pittsburgh
The final game of this 6-game road trip is a must win for the team, after dropping the past 3 contests by slim margins (2 were OT/SO losses) mostly due to losing 1-goal leads. This is not what a team wants to see heading into the final regular season push, but again, some bad luck has seen the Blues on the short end of the stick over those 3 games. A couple of odd bounces off of Blues players, including 2 goals off tips from Blues defenseman in front, and another off of Chris Butler’s head (video below) that could’ve gone either way show that the team is still close to regaining their top form. Add in the OT winner off of Abdelkader’s broken stick that should’ve been disallowed and it’s a very different story.
That’s the game though, sometimes bounces go your way and other times they don’t. Often that means a team is being outworked and isn’t moving their feet enough, but for a large portion of this road trip the Blues have played competitively, and have just fallen victim to some of the weirdest plays you’ll see in the game. The good news is that bad luck is often short lived, especially with teams that have a track record of working hard and grinding out victories like the Blues squad. That means on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh the Blues need to really focus on keeping their feet moving, and outworking the talented Penguins squad to make sure they end up with 8 out of a possible 12 points from this 6-game trip.
Salvaging the Road Trip and Boosting Morale
If the Blues are able to pick up their play and earn the win Tuesday night against the Penguins it will give them the boost they need to get to work over the next several days of practice before their next game, a Saturday evening affair back at the Scottrade Center against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The game Tuesday night will go a long way to improving team morale, and refocusing the group for a 3 game home stand where they will hopefully be able to keep and extend their Central Division lead over the surging Chicago Blackhawks, and the ever-present Nashville Predators.
How the Blues Win the Division
It’s no secret that every year the St. Louis Blues end up with some of the toughest schedules to end the regular season, and this year is no different. With only 9 games left in the regular season the Blues will only play 1 team that is not currently in a playoff spot, or fighting for one. That means the Blues will see a lot of desperation in their opponent’s play, and will need to stay focused and disciplined to keep them on top of these upcoming games. Staying out of the box will be key, and staying healthy against competition whose playoffs have technically already began will be of paramount importance. If the team can stay focused and play their quick up, hard fought style of play, they should be able to keep their lead over the Predators and Hawks for the division title.
— Tyler Klaus (@TylerKlausASU) March 23, 2015
Overall staying healthy will be the difference maker, as it was a big piece of the puzzle last season, when the Blues went down to the hawks in the 1st round, in just 6 games (and in almost identical fashion to how the LA Kings beat them the prior year). If the Blues can stay focused on each game ahead, and can battle these teams fighting for their playoff lives each and every night, they will be sitting pretty come mid-April and should finally go deep in the playoffs as fans expect every season. The leadership has the team headed in the right direction, and though this road trip hasn’t been too kind to the Blues, they should leave most of that in the past while playing 6 of their last 9 games on home ice in front of Blues faithfuls.
Like what you’ve just read? Follow me on Twitter:Follow @pep30
Mike has covered the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning in depth for The Hockey Writers since 2013. He is also a contributing writer for KSDK News Channel 5, the St. Louis area NBC affiliate, and has been a credentialed media member of the Blues since 2014. Follow him on Twitter @pep30.