It was a lot easier to be optimistic about the Blues march to the postseason yesterday, around 6pm before the puck dropped in Minnesota.
Sure, the Blues had lost three games in a row in regulation, but were facing a Minnesota team lacking any real punch, with a minor-league caliber goaltender.
Ken Hitchcock seemed optimistic about David Backes’ status, and pointed towards a postseason return.
What a difference a few hours makes.
With Brenden Morrow scratched from the lineup (and Jeremy Rutherford now reporting that a potentially “serious” foot injury is the cause) and TJ Oshie leaving the game after a vicious hit from Mike Rupp, more than 30% of the Blues offense this season is currently on the shelf.
That is reason for grave concern.
Forget the actual wins and losses over the last week. Colorado has climbed to the top of the Central. There isn’t much to do about that, other than win these last two games.
But think about next week.
“Momentum” into the postseason isn’t a real thing. But health is.
I think fans are quick to confuse momentum with performance. You play well, and win, that’s good momentum. You play poorly, and lose, that’s bad momentum.
Momentum isn’t real. But injuries are.
Last season, including the first two games against LA, the Blues had won 14/17 games. Then promptly got pushed aside by the Kings and headed back to St Louis for the summer.
Over the past nine seasons (since the tie was eliminated from the NHL) teams reaching the Stanley Cup Finals are a combined 100-58-22 in their final ten games.
The Flyers of 2009-2010 lost 10 of their last 15.
The Bruins, Penguns and Sharks of this year are all scuffling to Sunday’s end of the regular season.
I’m not as worried about the Blues wins and losses over this last week or two as an indicator of what’s to come in the playoffs, as I am about the injuries ravaging the team and it’s offensive capabilities.
And right now, the only “momentum” that seems to be real is down the tunnel to the trainer’s room.
TEAMS REACHING STANLEY CUP FINALS, OVER LAST 10 REGULAR SEASON GAMES:
2013: Chicago (7-2-1), Boston (3-5-2)
2012: Los Angeles (5-2-3), New Jersey (7-2-1)
2011: Boston (6-3-1), Vancouver (7-3)
2010: Chicago (6-3-1), Philadelphia (4-5-1)
2009: Pittsburgh (7-2-1), Detroit (3-6-1)
2008: Detroit (7-2-1), Pittsburgh (6-3-1)
2007: Anaheim (5-3-2), Ottawa (6-2-1)
2006: Carolina (5-3-2), Edmonton (5-4-1)
2004: Tampa Bay (5-4-1), Calgary (6-4)
TOTAL: 100-58-22 (.555)