“Here we go again.” Unfortunately for St. Louis Blues fans, this year’s opening round of the playoffs is taking on a familiar theme, one of lackluster play by the Blues who find themselves on the wrong end of a 2-games-to-1 deficit in their series versus the Minnesota Wild. Early returns on last night’s 3-0 shellacking by the Wild have Blues fans ready to pack up the clubhouse and load up the golf clubs, despite there being at least two more games to play.
I’m as frustrated as the next fan but not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Yes, it’s maddening to watch your favorite team, one whom many claim to actually bleed for in their support, play such uninspired hockey against an inferior team. We know the Blues should be lighting up Devan Dubnyk but what we’ve seen after three games leaves me wondering if the team knows it too.
So, how does this St. Louis Blues club turn things around? They’re on the road facing an almost “must-win” Game 4 Wednesday at the hostile Xcel Energy Center. They’re coming off perhaps their worst showing of the Spring, or at least since an ugly 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on March 29. Ouch, it wasn’t that long ago, was it? Though the Blues finished the regular season strong they were floundering at that point, as newcomer Zbynek Michalek put it:
“I don’t think there’s one good thing about our game right now. We need to look in the mirror and start playing as a team. Right now, it just seems like everybody’s doing different things. We need to get on the same page, play for one another. Right now, it’s not good enough.”
The Blues are floundering again with that same sort of randomness and it’s got fans fired up. Between the inexplicable healthy scratch of fan-favorite defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and a lack of scoring on a team with four guys over 20 goals and nine in double digits lies a general feeling of betrayal and in many cases a call for Coach Ken Hitchcock’s job.
Tj “no show” Oshie with 5 more minutes of ice time than Tarasenko? #firehitch
— Ryan Reel (@Reel_R91) April 21, 2015
The lines Monday night were a jumbled mess and the Blues struggled to find chemistry as a result. To make matters worse, veterans who have been near silent or worse since the series opened (I’m looking at you Paul Stastny and Jay Bouwmeester) continue logging minutes while seemingly better performing players languish in the press box.
Game 4 presents a chance for the Blues to reclaim the momentum heading back to St. Louis for Game 5 Friday night. While changes need to be made the one constant has been Jake Allen in net. He’s been the best player (by far) on the ice for the Blues and is certain to start again between the pipes Wednesday. He’s done his best and more to keep St. Louis in all three games but isn’t getting the support he did in going 5-1-1 down the stretch.
For some fans, all we’re asking for is to show some effort. Of course we always expect the Blues to win, every game, but when the team appears to be mailing it in it’s tough to feel sorry for them. The sentiment shown here by a St. Louis sportswriter is exactly how most of us felt last night:
Disgraceful lack of effort by the Blues.
— Bernie Miklasz (@miklasz) April 21, 2015
It’s an absolute shame when your best player, goaltender Jake Allen, has this to say of your effort:
Singing songs of lament is nothing new for Blues fans but it’s time for a change. #FreeBortuzzo and LET’S GO BLUES!