Coming into this season, it seemed as if everything in the world was going in the Note’s favor. The lockout had ended, Vladimir Tarasenko was finally here, and the momentum from last year looked as if it would carry on deep into the season. Surely the 2nd round playoff exit was to be learned from to grow and carry on. The Blues jumped to a quick start in the regular season, winning 6 of their first 7 games. We all know how the story goes the rest of the way up until the current state of the season. Last night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings may have been one of the most sorry efforts from the team since the Mike Kitchen years. The highlights speak for themselves. Too many guys standing around, very little hustle, and a lack of any sort of a forecheck doomed the Blues from the start. This trend has been constant in every single game of the Blues’ 5 game losing streak. David Backes had a fiery message to his teammates during post game interviews of yesterday’s 4-1 loss:
Backes: “It’s time to put the boots on and go do it or else pack your bags and go home because it’s slowly slipping.” #stlblues
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) February 12, 2013
I like that Backes is sending this message to his teammates. So far, he has led the team exactly like a good captain should. He speaks when something needs to be said, leads by example, and gives that needed spark at the right times. Some people may disagree with this, based on his tendency to take bad penalties at the wrong time. It may be discouraging, but I think that this demonstrates his will and tenacity that he brings to the rink every single game.
There have been a few bright spots during this season, even if few and far between.
-The Blues lead the league in the power play up to this point in the season. This has been a promising stat, considering that last year the Blues finished 19th in the league on the power play even after being central division champions at the end of the year. One can only imagine how much more damage they could have piled on had they had a power play like this year’s.
-I posted a separate article a few days ago about the play of Vladimir Sobotka this year, and the heart he plays with. Last night, he was just about the only Blue I thought to be playing at his full potential. He cares about winning, and it shows. If only the other players could see this and show the same sort of play he has this season.
-Yes, a 5 game losing streak is not exactly what the Blues or their fans had in mind this early in the season, but the point is that that’s what this season is: very young. Sure, it’s a shortened season where every game matters and the points are more important than ever, but this will pass. Teams that have as much talent as the Blues will get out of ruts like this, and I’ve never been a pessimistic person. Fans need to keep their patience in times like this, but it is true that time is running short.
The Blues have a great opportunity to get out of this slump tomorrow night on national television against a hated division rival. We’ll see if Ken Hitchcock can get the message to the team that translates back to the play that should be happening. Blues hockey is blue-collar hockey. If you refuse to work hard and give your best effort, you can step aside and let somebody else that will. I think the players know this, and the fans certainly do as well. Tomorrow night just may be one of the most important games of the Blues’ season thus far, the Detroit Red Wings will surely be ready on home ice, but the Blues will hopefully match that and light a fire that boosts this team back to the caliber of play that they know they can compete at.
Looking forward to tomorrow night,
Let’s Go Blues!