The St. Louis Blues continue to make progress. However, the team is taking baby steps when they are already behind the other teams in terms of intensity.
For those that stayed up late and watched the entire St. Louis Blues game with an open mind, there is little doubt that the team played better than we saw in the round-robin portion of the tournament. They are still quite a bit behind the rest of the teams in terms of style and intensity.
The Blues came out and played something a lot closer to Blues hockey than anything we have seen since the restart. They were engaged, they actually got shots toward net that were dangerous, they had some good hits – Brayden Schenn tried to put a man into the fourth row. It was good.
The problem is you need something approaching great when you are in the playoffs. The Blues are not there and only have a handful of chances to get there.
I made a point on Twitter I feel is very valid. The Blues were essentially playing exhibition hockey in the round-robin. They graduated to regular season-style hockey in Game 1 against the Vancouver Canucks.
That’s all well and good. You’re taking steps in a positive direction.
The problem is that Vancouver, as well as many other teams in this playoff format, are actually playing playoff hockey. It is hard to win when you’re already a step behind based on intensity alone.
As much as we love the Blues, they are not a team based on talent alone. They have great talents in certain individuals, but they don’t have that guy that will put them on their back and lead them to victory. The Blues don’t have those offensive juggernauts that will always find the goal when the team needs it most.
They have capable scorers and guys that play with a lot of grit and tenacity. The Blues are based on a true team concept, rolling four lines at you to simply wear you down.
St. Louis has more chances to do that to Vancouver, but they have to find that next gear right now. There can be no more warmups or trying to get going. St. Louis has to find their intensity now, or they will be leaving when this round is done.
The Blues are the better team. Vancouver is too young and inexperienced to know that should mean anything.
The Blues have to show them and that means staying at even strength, and just coming at them relentlessly. I honestly question whether the Blues will do that.
They continue to appear like a team that thinks they can just turn it on whenever they want. They were more intense in this game than the previous round, but when the results are the same, does it really matter?
St. Louis, right now, looks like a team that wants to find that next gear but doesn’t remember the intensity it took to win all those games. Instead of having experience how to do it, they seem to think they just instinctively do those intangible things because they’ve done them before.
That is not the case. You have to build that iron will. It does not just appear because you did it once.
It is almost like a marriage. You have to continually work at it. It doesn’t just stay good because you had that fantastic honeymoon where everything went right.
The Blues will win a game in this series. They played well enough to know they will not get swept.
They have to take a giant leap though. Small steps for players are not as good as a giant leap for Blueskind.