Allow me to be brutally honest with the devoted and deflated fans of the St. Louis Blues:
This team is not going to come back from down three games to none to the Vancouver Canucks after losing 3-2 Sunday (
At least not for this year.
Here's the thing. No matter how draining and disappointing it's all been to watch this team get schooled by the deeper, more experienced Canucks, don't for a moment think that it invalidates the struggle to get here. Learning to win is a process and this series has been all about Vancouver offering them an accelerated course.
The Blues have made the point that they've been in playoff mode for last couple months as they rose from 15th in the West to sixth. They were wrong. Truth is, they just didn't know any better. Now they're finding out what playoff mode really means.
It's more than just picking up your game. It's a series of continuous adjustments, all made without ever allowing your compete level to diminish. It's leaning how to play within the moment, and not letting emotions overwhelm that moment.
And as much as anything, it's about finding a way to capitalize when an opportunity presents itself.
That's an area where they obviously failed Sunday night.
Backed by the raucous crowd at the Scottrade Center, the Blues dominated the early going. They set the physical tone (outhitting the Canucks 16-5 in the first) and outworked them. They were full value for the 1-0 lead built on
A veteran side would have recognized what was coming next and would have been fully prepared to counter-punch. Instead, the Blues were overwhelmed. Unable to match Vancouver's effort, they started trailing the play instead of anticipating it. And as they found themselves trying to catch-up, their own parade to the penalty box started.
Three Vancouver power play goals later, and it was church for the Blues.
Blowing that early two-man advantage, and another similar opportunity later in the game, will be the stuff of their nightmares this summer.
"We looked tight and nervous on the power play," Blues' coach
While Murray praised his team's compete level after the game, it was the verbal equivalent of putting his arm around the shoulders of a bunch of humbled kids. Truth is, they may have worked hard but, outside of
After scoring just once in two games in Vancouver, the formula for Game 3 was pretty obvious. Get more pucks on the net and get more Blues in
Give credit to Vancouver's defense, especially
That's the sort of lesson that teams learn the hard way. To paraphrase the eloquently self-aware
At some point, these guys will be cookies. But not this year.