The St. Louis Blues are fresh off a discouraging defeat in Chicago. With two games left, it’s about responding and health.
Well, we all know how the St. Louis Blues game in Chicago turned out by now. Our boys battled back, but made far too many mistakes in the end.
Overall, I think the entire team, front to back, played poorly. There were flashes, especially from the top line, but not enough from all involved.
With only two games left, it is all about health and responding. You do not want to come up with an unnecessary injury, but you cannot just sit and let the playoffs come to you.
The Blues need to get back on their feet and get those legs pumping. I am not saying go balls to the wall, but they need a couple wins under their belt to end the year, regardless of what happens in the division.
They start, tonight, against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Blues do not typically play well against teams already out of the postseason, but we had better see more of a game similar to that against Edmonton or Detroit than the one we saw against Chicago or New York.
Thankfully history does not play too much into inter-divisional matchups. I say that because, historically, the Blues have a 38% win percentage against the Flyers.
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They come into this game 52-92-17 against Philadelphia. Fortunately, that percentage is a little higher at home.
In recent times, the Blues are much better off. Funny enough, the Blues have swept or been swept by the Flyers the last couple years. If history holds up in that trend, the Blues in tonight since this is the year for them to win both games and they already won the road contest.
However, we have been down this road before with other teams. The Flyers are barely above .500, have a minus-32 goal difference and have lost three in a row. Sadly, that makes me more afraid of them than playing a good team.
The Blues need to win this game. I have seen some fans say it does not matter to get home ice or win the division. I’ll address that in a moment, but overall you need to get that winning swagger back.
Even in the games they won, the Blues just have not looked sharp lately. Time to turn it around tonight.
Division Or Not?
When it comes to winning the division, it actually is not as simple as you would think. Normally, you would never turn down the idea of home ice and winning a division.
However, Dallas is all but locked into that top wild card spot. So, winning the division would give the Blues an opponent they have struggled mightily with.
St. Louis is 1-3-0 against the Stars this season. They have been outscored 13-7. They have not looked good in almost any of those games either.
If the Blues manage to climb their way into the top spot in the Central, I am not going to complain. You have to beat these teams eventually anyway. However, I’d take my chances with Nashville the way the Blues have played them. It’s their arena and fans that bother me, not the team – not at the moment anyway.
Instead of only focusing on the division, this team needs to go into the playoffs healthy. They currently have the most healthy players since who knows when, missing only Joel Edmundson and Sammy Blais.
Blais was a great addition to the team’s fourth line and I’d like his physicality in the playoffs, but the Blues have done without him. Edmundson, if they could bring him back up to speed, would be the bigger addition. The problem there is he has a lower-body injury, so who knows what kind of shape he is in.
Regardless, I would rather finish in third and be healthy than win the division and have another injury or two. Health will determine how far the 2018-19 Blues can go.
While the streak was broken, the Blues won double-digit games with Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko on their top line. It was injury and necessity that broke them apart for long stretches.
Injury also forced guys into roles they could no longer handle or were not ready to handle, based on their service history. When this team has clicked, it was because all their players fell into the role that best suits them at this stage of their career.
Conversely, the Blues, themselves, cannot be worried about their health. Often, when you are aware of your physical well being, that is when you get hurt. You take your foot off the gas, which puts your body in more prone positions, despite trying to be safer.
So, going out and trying to win is still the key.
Binnington Record Holder
Though nothing official has been released by the Blues, we all know Jordan Binnington is going to play tonight. He also has the chance to become the all-time winningest rookie goalie in Blues history.
Shockingly to some, I hope he gets it. I’ve grown tired of the goaltending wars waged online. This team has two quality goaltenders and if they win with Binnington, so much the better.
The Blues just need to win. If Binnington gets this record, so be it. They are meaningless, really.
As much as I, and all of us, love the Blues, they don’t have the best history with their own goaltenders. You look at the names on that list of guys with the most W’s as a rookie Blues member and they did not last long or have career success.
Maybe Binnington changes that trend. We won’t know until years from now. So, if he gets one more win just for a record, it does not affect me.
Him playing well, the defense playing well and getting this team ready for the playoffs is all we should care about. Sadly, you know some tool on social media will remark how Binnington passed Allen, not realizing that means Allen was that high in the first place.