The St. Louis Blues took Game 1 against the Winnipeg Jets. Despite the big win, little will come easy for the boys in blue.
The St. Louis Blues better know they have a fight coming the rest of this series. Perhaps that won’t be in the literal sense, but there were some punches thrown during the opener.
The Blues got into it a couple times with the Jets toward the end of the first game. Alexander Steen took particular exception to some of the late jabs while the puck was under his goaltender.
However, in this instance, we are not really talking about fisticuffs. The Blues need to know that the Jets are going to answer. Whether that equals a Jets win or not is up to the guys wearing the Note.
St. Louis has had a bad habit during the season and in recent years of thinking they are better than they are or feeling like things will come easy once they get a taste of success. Do that in this series, or the playoffs in general, and you’ll find yourself down pretty quick.
The good thing about this team is I don’t think that will happen. That does not mean they might not lose their next game, but I don’t think it will be from lack of focus.
This team feels a bit different and Craig Berube seems to have a firmer grip on how to keep them in line without wearing them out as Ken Hitchcock did. Hope springs eternal.
For those that put any stock in such things, the Blues will be Western Conference champions if EA Sports is correct. They recently simulated the playoffs in NHL 19 and the Blues got all the way to the final series.
What is even better is the team won its first ever game in a Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, they could not win four of them and lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
That’s one of those things, if told prior to any season that you would make the final round, we would all take it in a heartbeat. However, I have often wondered if I would rather not get that far than to get to the final and lose. I just imagine it would be too gut wrenching.
Still, it is nice to get some national recognition, even if it is from a simulation.
However, before you get too excited about this, as it was posted in the GameTime article, the Blues were picked to win it all by the EA simulator back in 2014. St. Louis proceeded to lose in the first round.
It would be interesting to know how accurate these things have ever been, though I am sure it is not very high. They do have an OK record of simulating Super Bowls and actual final series, but entire playoffs just have too many variables.
Stay Classy Winnipeg
I try my best not to take some false moral high ground when it comes to sports. While there are certain things I have a disdain for, each person has their own feelings about what the line is to cross in various different aspects.
That said, I find it distasteful that the Jets took a run at Jordan Binnington in the first period of Game 1. Some people were outraged, though I do not think I would put myself in that category.
Other people will say it was just the natural flow and Binnington was just bumped. I do not buy that for a second.
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I believe they took a run at him, even if the contact was not egregious. The Jets did not specify how, but they said they were going to test the rookie however they could.
That’s fine if you are talking about getting in his kitchen as far as screens or even a nudge on the way through the top of the crease. When a goalie is out of the crease and has his back to you, you should not make contact.
To me, that is not gamesmanship or trying to play some mental game. It is borderline dirty because you have no clue how the goalie will react.
What if Binnington slips the wrong way and tweaks something? Is that really how the Jets want to win something, by knocking out the other team’s netminder?
Maybe I am thin skinned since I am still bitter at the Maple Leafs for potentially costing the Blues in 1996 when they ran Grant Fuhr. Even so, I think it is underhanded to actually take a swipe at an opponent the way that happened.
Of course, Mark Scheifele says he tried to get out of the way. Maybe he did and I’m just looking through blue-tinted glasses. I still think there was an element of this “testing the rookie” thing in it.
Blues Asking A Lot Of Fans
To be honest, the title of this section is a little tongue-in-cheek.
Getting to the news aspect, the Blues are going to have a special pregame light show before Game 3 once the series switches to St. Louis. With the game being at 6:30 local time (don’t get used to that), the Blues are asking fans to be in their seats by 6:15.
The reasoning is there will be special wristbands that will light up depending on what section you are sitting in. Each seat has a code, which will correspond to some sort of visual signal.
I say the Blues are asking a lot of fans because I am a realist. The reality is that, despite St. Louis not being a traffic nightmare like L.A. or Chicago or Atlanta, people still tend to stroll in when they feel like it.
Maybe they are tailgating or coming from their favorite dive or maybe actually coming from work and they could not get off earlier. Regardless, there are going to be people that are not there on time or trying to shuffle in right at 6:30.
Also, the team website asked fans not to gather up any wristbands not associated with their seats. I like to think most people are good intentioned and intelligent.
Years of working in a retail atmosphere have stripped me of that notion. You know some fools are going to snatch up a bunch so they have their entire arm lit up, even though it will screw up the visual from an entire stadium perspective.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe more people will be like myself, who if I was going, would arrive early and leave everyone their intended wristband.
So, while some of us are trying not to get too excited after one game, others are making that difficult. The man the fans have basically made the de facto leader of the Blues, Ryan O’Reilly, said this is the best team he has ever been on.
Now, before we go crazy with that statement, you have to remember who he played for. O’Reilly was on plenty of rebuilding teams in Colorado, though he did win a division title there. He was also on some mediocre, if not bad, Buffalo teams. Hard not to top that bunch.
Still, a guy like O’Reilly is not pissing into the wind here. He would not say something like that if it was not true, at least for him.
By no means is this the best Blues team. It might not be the best team we have had the last decade in terms of talent.
However, there might not have been a team in this franchise’s recent history that had more depth. In the past, we have had fourth line players on the fourth line. Right now, the guys on this fourth line could be third liners on plenty of teams (maybe even the Blues in the future) and possibly even up on the second line for some teams.
You have a starting goaltender as your current backup. You have eight NHL-ready defensemen.
They do not boast the top end talent of Winnipeg, but you trust man one through 12 of the forwards in almost all situations now. That is something O’Reilly has not experienced before.
It might mean nothing, but still hard not to trust the words when this kind of player is the one gushing.