The St. Louis Blues season is over and we are all left wondering why. While there are no excuses, the reasons for some lackluster play are starting to make sense.
The St. Louis Blues are out of the playoffs. That much is usually the only part of a season ending that fans can agree on.
Every year, you have the battle between people who want to blow up the entire organization and those that are simple proud of the boys. It is a never ending cycle that proves how no two people see a situation the same way, even given the same facts.
This year is no doubt. Personally, while disappointed the Blues could not summon better effort, I don’t see it as a failed season.
I think the idea that any season without a championship being a failed season is shortsighted and simple-minded. That doesn’t mean everything is roses and sunshine. The future is not all doom and gloom.
Now, we have to wait and see if we will have healthy stars. As is customary following an NHL season, you slowly learn who was hurt and to what extent. It is no different for this year’s Blues team.
There was much made of Alex Steen being hurt during the playoffs, but we never knew what was going on. All fans knew was he was playing in games and not practicing at all.
Now we know what was wrong. Steen was playing with a broken foot.
How on Earth that is possible is beyond my comprehension. Pain tolerance is one thing, but usually broken feet mean you cannot even walk, let along put a skate on.
Showing his grit and determination even after the loss, Steen would not accept praise for his actions.
“To be honest, I don’t really want to get into it,” Steen said. “I don’t want to take away from what the guys did here, how we pulled together, how we stuck together through a lot of stuff. It’s not just me, there’s several guys in here that dug deep. There’s guys that played through shoulders, hips, knees, feet, heels, ribs, backs. I don’t want to take away from that.”
Steen battled through just about as much as anyone could expect. He broke the foot way back in Game 1 against Minnesota. He then worsened the injury by blocking a shot in Game 4 against Nashville.
The fact he played at all is a miracle. The idea that he came back for Game 6 is almost beyond belief.
Now, we are finding out that his injury was not the only one. Paul Stastny had a much-publicized foot injury of his own that kept him out much of the first round.
This one is a little fuzzier, because of the entire Russian thing. That is not to disparage the Russian people, but they tend to have their own story about things that involve their hockey players that doesn’t always jive with the truth. As a famous Jedi once said, “What I told you was true. From a certain point of view.”
If true, it explains a lot. The Blues still needed to go out there and get the job done.
If you believe you are healthy enough to contribute, you have to contribute. That said, when three of your top stars are all battling through serious injuries, it lessens your ability to perform at the highest level.
The Blues still have no excuses. David Perron and Patrik Berglund were not injured – at least not that we know of. They were both playoff busts, combining for five assists and only 31 shots (15 combined in the Nashville series) after both having strong regular seasons.
There are plenty out there whining about Tarasenko not stepping it up in the big moments. He had a playoff run to forget, but if he had an injury that requires surgery, I’m even more impressed. I felt he battled a lot more this year than last, even if his point totals were better last playoff season.
Steen answered a lot of critics about his willingness to lead this team. Yes, there was the possibility of him being captain, but there was also talk of him being somewhat of a malcontent. He led by example this time around, for sure.
None of this really changes the fact the Blues lost. They were in every game with Nashville and could not take the Predators down.
It doesn’t change how the Predators won either. Nobody should be saying the Blues would have won simply because their stars were hurt. Still, I’d like to see a fully healthy Blues team just to see if the outcome would have been different.
We’ll never know that part. We do know that this team is becoming more and more gutsy and battle tested.
They just need a way to get over that hump. Maybe next year they can have health going into the second season. Maybe, just maybe, whoever the GM is will find that right supplemental player to push them back over the top.
For now, let’s all hope everyone gets healthy. No lingering problems from these issues is first and foremost, while the rest takes care of itself in due time.