St. Louis Blues have yet to show up in NHL Playoffs

Apr 30, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) makes a save in traffic during the second period against the Nashville Predators in game three of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) makes a save in traffic during the second period against the Nashville Predators in game three of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Blues have played well enough to get through one round and win a game in the second. It just feels like we have yet to see them play though.

Anyone who has been paying any kind of attention knows the Blues have won games in the 2017 NHL Playoffs. As of writing this, they have won five at least.

The thing that is concerning though is it just doesn’t feel like any of the games have been “Blues hockey.” That term is very broad and can be applied any number of ways. However, there is still a certain style you expect to see.

We have not seen that style in these playoffs. If/when we have, it has been nowhere near long enough in terms of duration.

On the one hand, you have to ask how much one can complain. The Blues defeated one of the most talented teams during the regular season in the Minnesota Wild.

St. Louis only allowed seven total goals against the Wild, who led the league in five-on-five scores. Three of those seven came in the Game 5 loss for the Wild and two more came in their win in Game 4.

However, those stats are a bit of fools gold in terms of the Blues. Jake Allen pretty much bailed the Blues out the entire series.

With the exception of Game 2 and 4 (ironically 4 was a Blues loss), the Wild pelted Allen with 30 or more shots each time. Win or lose, the Blues spent way too much time in their defensive zone.

No game against Minnesota was as bad as Game 1, but in general St. Louis had very little flow to their game. There were spurts here or there where they would control and be able to do some things. Game 3 was an example of that and it was a 3-1 win.

In an overall sense, though, the Blues just were not playing like the Blues. Regardless of the outcome of each contest, you never got the feeling the Blues were in control.

For those that watch soccer, it was like a team that packs it in defensively and looks to spring the counter. It’s not pretty, but it can be effective. The problem in a game like hockey, is eventually you get caught out there too much. With no respite, mistakes happen and you can’t just lob it down the field like in soccer.

That has definitely been the case for the Blues against Nashville. Game 3 against the Predators was a prime example.

St. Louis was under constant pressure. When you can’t find a way to push the other team offensively, they grow confident and start pushing you around physically.

That is what the Predators have been doing. You can look at the stat sheet and see the hits have been fairly even except in Game 1, but that doesn’t tell the entire story.

The Blues got bullied in Game 3 against Nashville. Multiple media outlets have said so and all used the same adjective.

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It worked too. St. Louis did not technically give up any powerplay goals, but they took some undisciplined penalties, which wasted a lot of energy.

The more chances you give the Predators with a man-advantage, the more their confidence grows. As it is, they are just flinging pucks at the net because they know they’re getting great screens from their players and Blues players. They’re getting the bounces too.

That’s not to say Nashville is lucky. They have deserved to win each game they have thus far. It can’t be denied that a lot of pucks are falling just right for them though.

St. Louis cannot worry about that. They have to find a way to play their game instead of trying to constantly battle against what their opponent is doing.

The Blues seem only concerned with defending at the moment. You cannot have such a narrow view of the game to forget about everything else. Rope-a-dope may have worked against Minnesota, if that was even an actual strategy. It is not working against the Predators.

Nashville is too good along the blue line. They have the most goals of any playoff team coming from their point.

St. Louis must find a way to be more disciplined. While they still did not have a great game in Game 2, one of the prime reasons they won was because Nashville had no powerplays.

The Blues have just been too ill-disciplined. They have had 24 powerplays against in eight games.

Three against per game does not sound too bad, but you can’t waste that energy in the playoffs. On top of that, the Blues penalty kill has taken big steps backward.

They finished third in the league on penalty kill during the regular season. In the playoffs, the Blues are currently 11th out of 16 playoff teams. Their percentage is almost 6 points lower than in the regular season.

Nasvhille deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Blues off their game. This is a team that many predicted to win the Central Division before the season.

On the flip side, the Predators are a team that just snuck into the playoffs. The Los Angeles Kings won a Stanley Cup in dominant fashion as an 8 seed, but most times there is a reason teams finish in the eighth spot.

The Blues are making sure the Predators do not look anything like an 8 seed. Everyone wants to keep drooling over Nashville sweeping Chicago, but as good as they are it feels like the Blues should be better.

Nashville is not winning each game going away. They are simply taking advantage of Blues mistakes.

Next: Five Keys To Victory In Blues/Nashville Series

That’s what makes the losses frustrating. You keep figuring if the Blues show up for once, they’ll take the game and the series.

However, when it can be argued they have not really shown up with a full effort for a full 60 minutes, you have to wonder. Will this team actually show up?

The odd thing is no one person has played terribly.  It is more as a team they have not done things well enough to really have that performance where you watch and say “the Blues are going to win this one for sure.”

On the plus side, the Blues have won one series this way and are still in another. On the negative, you only get so many chances before even a good game might not be enough or come too late.