Game Four is, without question, the most important game of the season for the St. Louis Blues. It will come down to one moment. One shot or one save—walk away to get a beer or to make a sandwich, and you might miss it. The millisecond that defines the season for St. Louis could come off the stick of Maxim Lapierre, or deflect off of Roman Polak to beat Ryan Miller.
It’s been a series of inches against the Chicago Blackhawks, and that shouldn’t be surprising or discouraging. It was a puck-sized hole that decided the outcome of Game Three. One mistake. A single blown save for Miller, and that allowed the defending Stanley Cup champions to climb back into this quarterfinal.
The difference between 3-1 and 2-2 is overwhelming to think about, especially against this seasoned and determined ‘Hawks team. It might be tough for the Blues to take a note from the Detroit Red Wings, but that’s what they need to do here. Remember, the (dreaded) Red Wings held a 3-1 lead of Chicago before succumbing in Game Seven just a year ago.
That series had an “only a matter of time” feel to it after the Blackhawks starting clawing away, one period at a time. Chicago didn’t dominate Game Three against St. Louis by any stretch, but it really doesn’t matter how you win. All that matters is the series score, and right now it’s 2-1.
The question every Blues player needs to be asking himself is this: “Do I want to go back to St. Louis with this series sitting at a best-of-three?”The answer should be, to a man, “hell no.” For a club that has struggled to get over the hump and is staring down ghosts of playoff failures on a nightly basis, 2-2 is a sequence of numbers that should turn stomachs. It might seem like hyperbole to say that Game Four is the most important game of the season for St. Louis, but it is for one simple reason.
Chicago knows it must win to have a solid chance of defending that Cup banner. They’re going to be desperate, and they’re going to have a Game Seven mentality. If the Blues can’t match that intensity, then they’ll be coming back to the Scottrade Center for potentially their final home game of the season.How can you measure the difference between that mindset and having the chance to close out the Blackhawks on home ice? The gap there is massive, and every individual on the roster needs to find a way to elevate to the moment. You know Chicago’s players can and will answer the bell. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford—These guys are axe murderers, just waiting for the chance to swarm and they have the Cup rings to prove it.
What’s happened in years gone by can’t matter to St. Louis now. Injury problems and dirty play can’t distract the Blues from the task at hand. Which is matching tempo with a Chicago team that will undoubtedly rise to the occasion and play hard. That’s why this is the most important and pivotal game for the Blues. Because it is for the ‘Hawks, and they must be matched in terms of battle readiness and puck support.
A power-play goal would be nice too, but let’s just take it one game at a time.