I’ve never been great at math and always loved sports and sports stats. I’m not a stat nut by any stretch, one of many reasons why I can’t get too terribly involved with baseball, but I truly appreciate those whose saliva glands are stimulated by stats like TOI, GAA, PIM, 5v3, 5v4, TOT, GSA…and the whole lot. However, one stat that I care about perhaps the most (and the one I, unfortunately, rarely ever see in a positive light as a Blues fan) is the chance, in percentage, the good guys have at making the playoffs. Before last night’s contest against Minnesota, the Blues chances stood at about 0.00013% to make the playoffs. It’s hard to consider myself an optimist when it comes to the teams I put my support behind, I am a realist, however – but with chances at 0.00013% I already knew where this team stood. Heck, I knew where this team stood after watching, attending and looking at stats from the month of January and I still invested a lot in them and put much faith toward the idea that things would turn around and we could stand a solid chance at the playoffs. Without further adieu, last night’s mundane affair (aside from two great Chris Stewart goals) mathematically eliminated the Blues’ chances of even sniffing a playoff spot from afar.
How to make a banal and meaningless game worse? Step 1 – suck all the life out of both teams playing, Step 2 – go in to Overtime, Step 3 – go to a shootout (added substep – have one of your best shootout snipers sit out for two games due to an unexcused absence from practice). Home and home series’ are commonly played on back-to-back nights and though the teams were lucky enough to have a few days in between games it appeared that both teams had all the air sucked out of their sails. I’m a bit confused as to why, myself, as neither team is contending for a playoff spot and neither team really played with obvious hustle from the puck drop on Tuesday. On Saturday the Blues outplayed the Wild in almost every sense of the word – we outshot them, we (obviously) out…scored them, had more power plays/created more opportunities for ourselves – and while the roles were reversed on Tuesday, the Wild did it with very little gusto. Both teams kept the shots pretty evenly matched, though St. Louis did skate away with one more shot on goal than Minnesota at 29-28. Of course, shots on goal mean nothing when you’re tied 2-2 and headed in to extra time and they inevitably end up meaning less when you lose in the shootout. Right winger Matt D’Agostini capped off the third period by taking a delay of game penalty after shooting the puck over the glass and seconds later Vladimir Sobotka met him in the penalty box for tripping, giving the Wild a 5-on-3 power play that led in to overtime (which turned what would’ve been a 4-on-2 situation in to a 5-on-3 situation due to overtime rules [best explained by Lou Korac at his blog]).
Overtime was a much drawn out stalemate that saw the Wild outshoot (there’s that word again) the Blues 8-1. Hopes weren’t very high once shootout came around, especially considering what may be the top pick, TJ Oshie, was out serving the first of his two game non-suspension sit out time. As presumed, the Blues fell to the Wild in the shootout after Andy McDonald’s wrist shot ‘goal’ went wasted via D’Agostini’s attempt to even the keel. In a most undesirable way the Blues aided in breaking Minnesota’s 8 game losing streak.
The Blues’ player of the game undoubtedly went to Chris Stewart who notched both goals, his 25th and 26th of the season, 12th and 13th as a Blue. Stewart’s two goal effort also marks his fifth two-goal game since joining the St. Louis squad only 20 games ago. Honorable mentions are awarded to Patrik Berglund who assisted Stewart, as well as Alex Pietrangelo and Sobotka who raked up favorable times on ice, 27:17 and 17:39 respectively.