The last game for St. Louis before the olympic break was at home against the Washington Capitals. The Blues own the worst home record in the NHL and the Washington Capitals, in my opinion, are without a doubt the best team in the NHL and they have the NHL's best player in Alexander Ovechkin. Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of optimism from Blues fans about winning this game.
But this was a must win game for St. Louis. They are trying to crawl back into the playoffs, and with some help could get within two points of 8th place.
The Blues held Ovechkin in check and may have played their best home game all season as they beat Washington 4-3 in a barnburner that went to a shootout which had to go 5 rounds before a goal was scored. Perron got the winner in the shootout on a nifty backhander off of the post, then off of Theodore and in.
Berglund played a heck of a game. It may have been the best game I have seen him play. He needs to keep doing this EVERY GAME. Nice job.
This is the third win in a row for St. Louis (all home games no less), but they still remain 4 pts. out of a playoff spot with Calgary's victory over Anaheim.
Right now, the Blues are 100% in the hunt for that last playoff spot and any talk of making the playoffs should not be greeted with criticism as the playoffs are currently a very real possibility if they continue to play good hockey. Now sure, after the NHL resumes it's season on March 1st, the Blues could very easily slip back out of contention with a couple losses, so every game is key. They cannot afford to go on any losing streaks, nor can they afford to be going to overtime every other game against teams they are trying to catch.
Do I think the Blues can make the playoffs? Absolutely. Do I think they will make the playoffs? The optimist in me says yes, but it's a little more than just optimism and I'll explain why.
Everyone knows to win in this league you need good goaltending and the Blues have goaltending that is good enough to win on most nights. If you combine the good goaltending with solid defensive play, then you're talking. St. Louis' defense has been pretty good all year long.
The real issue with this team is the offense, both 5 on 5 and on the power play. It has been horrendous this season...until recently that is. During their current three game win streak, they have scored 4 goals in each game. If you score four goals in the NHL, chances are you are going to win the game, and the Blues are proving that right now. IF, the newfound surge on offense can maintain a 3 or 4 goal average to close out the season, the Blues will make the playoffs. There is no doubt in my mind. The only thing that would throw a wrench into that statement is if the Blues trade away some talent at the deadline. Then all bets are off on the playoffs...it would be a wait and see kind of thing. But, then again, trading away certain players could be an addition by subtraction. I won't mention any names, but his initials are Eric Brewer.
- Is the offense slowly, finally, coming around?
- Will the goaltending come up big in big games down the home stretch?
- Can the Blues play just a little better than Anaheim, Calgary, Detroit and Dallas and/or maybe Nashville down the stretch?
The answer to these questions and more, in this episode of...SOAP.
Seriously though, the answer to all of those questions needs to be yes, or the Blues miss out on the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Can they pull it off? Yes. Will they pull it off? Most definitely...maybe.
Until the season resumes, enjoy olympic hockey everyone...I know I will.
USA! USA! USA!