The St. Louis Blues entered the Stanley Cup Final with some fire. They got cold water thrown on them rather quickly.
The St. Louis Blues came out like a house on fire in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. They had fans’ hopes soaring about as high as they have ever been. Then, for both the players and the fans, reality came crashing down like a sack full of bricks.
Mike Tyson was famously quoted for saying everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth. Well, the Blues have been punched in the mouth. Now, they have to find a way to answer and not stay down on the mat.
People will call this crazy, but as disheartening as losing Game 1 was, it might have been the best thing for this team. Things came somewhat easy at the start of the game while the Boston Bruins were shaking off the rust.
It never looked like the Blues became complacent, but maybe somewhere in the recesses of their mind, they thought things might go their way without having to give every last ounce. Game 1 proved otherwise and now the Blues know what they need to do.
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Boston is a great team. Even at the Blues best, St. Louis need to know the Bruins will be tough to knock off. However, we also know that the Blues can dominate this opponent when they are at their best, as they did for much of the first period.
The keys for St. Louis are simple. They have to be more disciplined. You cannot give the Bruins potent power play (say that five times fast) five opportunities. Even if you kill off every single one, you have no opportunity to generate any positive game flow and you tire yourself out killing it off.
The Blues also have to get more pucks on net. There were discrepancies as to how many shots there were in Game 1. Some said 17. The NHL’s official game cast said the Blues had 20. Either way, it was nowhere near enough. The Blues have to work Tuukka Rask and get him moving. They need to have net front presence too and make him flustered.
St. Louis also needs to stick to what they are good at. Somewhere along the line, they became enamored with the stretch pass. When it is 100% available, fine. The Blues are not good at tape-to-tape passes through traffic though, as shown by Joel Edmundson’s turnover that led to the go-ahead goal for Boston in Game 1.
The Blues need to skate the puck out of their zone. There was plenty of ice available if the Blues were just willing to take it instead of trying to spring offense through breakouts. St. Louis is much better trying to move up and down the ice as a five man unit instead of looking for odd man breaks down the rink.
The good thing is these are relatively simple things to fix and things the Blues have done when they are clicking on all cylinders. Fixing them does not guarantee a win with as good as Boston can play, but it makes things a heck of a lot more even.
Right now, it’s about figuring out their own issues for the Blues. Boston presents enough problems without St. Louis getting in their own way.
It is time to pick yourself up off the proverbial mat, regroup and come back in Game 2. The Blues have made a habit of proving people wrong all season and they have another chance to do that now.
People were fully on the Boston bandwagon going into this series and the way the Bruins stormed back in their 4-2 win, they only reinforced the idea that the Blues have little chance. If you can take that hit on the chin and come back with a couple jabs, people will be forced to think differently.
Losing after looking so good in a short spurt might be what this team needed. They needed to know this was truly not going to be easy, even if they had been told that already. They needed to know this was the Stanley Cup Final and they will have to fight and claw and scratch for every inch.
Boston is a great team, but they’re not as great as the Blues made them look. It’s all about answering.
The Blues had a game plan and got punched in the mouth. Now, they better punch back.