The St. Louis Blues will host the seventh and final match-up of Rd. 1 tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. At the end of the night, the team will either be preparing to take on the Dallas Stars or dealing with nightmares of how their 3-1 series lead evaporated before their eyes.
The Past is the Past
The Hawks are, rather obviously, a great team in the playoffs. They’ve won three of the last six Stanley Cups and are the closest thing to a dynasty in modern hockey. That’s a lot to go up against for the Blues, a team that has been notoriously plagued with playoff disappointment.
St. Louis has, however, displayed a different attitude this postseason than in year’s past. They’ve been gritty and were able to find their way to a commanding 3-1 series lead. Their physical style coupled with a strong focus on defensive responsibility allowed them to best the multi-talented efforts of Chicago in half of the first six match-ups.
They’re Both Good Teams
While the loss of two consecutive games in which the Blues could’ve won the series and moved onto the second round is disappointing, it makes sense. Both the Blues and the Hawks are good teams. They’ve both had success in the tough Central Division of the Western Conference.
They’ve grown and developed over the last few years and new heroes have emerged. Good teams find ways to win and Chicago’s ability to push the series to seven in no way discredits St. Louis’ effort.
The Blues need to remember that they have also won three games in the series. They have proven their ability to beat the Hawks just as many times as they’ve lost to them, meaning they have 60 minutes to really determine the better team tonight.
Make it or Break it
By definition, Game 7 is life or death and tonight will certainly follow suit. There’s no denying the pressure of a 60-minute game that can either end or extend the efforts of a season that began in October, but the Blues have to go into it with a similar mindset to regular games.
While thinking about the implications and influence of a game like this is overwhelming in some regards, it’s a challenge the Blues will have to overcome in hopes of a deep playoff run. They’ll have to find a way to move forward regardless of if they are happy or disappointed in the results because there won’t be anything else they can do.
The game itself will still be 60 minutes of regulation, and possibly a few more periods of overtime, that will be fraught with battles. St. Louis has to fight for their season as they battle in the corner for possession or take hits to makes plays. They should take it one shift at a time and work from their end out.
In the end, they need to be able to look back on the match-up and feel proud of how they played.
If the Blues bring their best hockey they can play and can beat any team in the league, including the Hawks, and tonight is no different. The only thing known for sure is that there will be handshakes come the end of the game, it’s just a matter of which side’s bid for a championship has ended and which side’s is just beginning.