The Blues have been eliminated from contention for the Stanley Cup. That’s a sentence Blues fans have become all too familiar with as it’s been said in one form or another ever since the team’s creation. The 2016-17 season proved to be another year where the Blues fell short of their goal, but this time low expectations from fans (and possibly the team) are overshadowing what was yet another disappointing exit.
Back at the beginning of March, Blues GM Doug Armstrong said his goal for the team was to simply make the playoffs. The Blues accomplished that feat thanks to a big turnaround provided through new head coach Mike Yeo.
Upon clinching a playoff spot, that’s where the low expectations should have ended.
The NHL playoffs are the league’s second season. The slate is wiped clean and 16 teams have a shot at the Stanley Cup. If you’re fortunate to be one of those 16 teams, it doesn’t really matter what you did or did not accomplish in the regular season. It’s all about who gets hot, who gets lucky and – because intangibles in hockey are popular among the mainstream media – who wants it more.
The Blues made it into the playoffs and had just as good of a chance as any other team to advance and lift some hardware. They pulled off a surprising series against the Minnesota Wild and found themselves in even more exclusive company. Instead of using the fact they were crawling closer to the Cup, the Blues seemed to back down. Their power play vanished and proved to be a critical part of their ruin. The players the Blues could have really used on offense – Patrik Berglund and David Perron, to name two – did more harm than good. Perron in particular was completely awful.
Just because the Blues were looking ugly at the middle of the regular season shouldn’t give them an excuse for doing more of the same in the playoffs. Some of their play was inexcusable. Some players shined – Jake Allen and Alexander Steen – while others maintained the same song and dance which led to the Blues being bounced out as seen in previous years.
Yes, it was a nice surprise to see the Blues surge at the end of the season and make it out of the first round. But, as is said every year, “maybe next year.” The Blues are now 0-for-50 years in their quest for the Cup. There shouldn’t be any more excuses. There shouldn’t be any “well, we didn’t think they’d even make it this far” talk until the Blues have actually won something. The Blues have bombed out of the playoffs an insane amount of times and many of the recent shortcomings can be tied to a familiar set of failures. Isn’t it time to start being honest with ourselves?
The Blues had a 1-in-8 shot at the Cup and missed their chance to move on. Now, they’ll have to try again next year when they’ll see their odds fall to 1-in-31 thanks to the new Vegas club. Some teams would kill to have that 1-in-8 shot and would put everything they had on the line just to compete. For the Blues, and for some of their fans, just being there was apparently a good enough victory.