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Pressing question: Can the Blues get back on track?

Apr 15, 2014, 11:22 AM EST

Roman Polak, Jakub Kindl, Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader AP

One of PHT’s 10 pressing questions in advance of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs…

The way a team is playing when it finishes the regular season doesn’t always continue into the playoffs.

Just ask the St. Louis Blues, who finished the 2008-09 campaign on a 9-1-1 streak, only to get swept by Vancouver in the first round.

The Blues are hoping the opposite scenario will occur in 2014, given they enter the postseason on a six-game losing streak in which they’ve been shut out three times and outscored 22-5. That skid cost them first place in the Central Division, and earned them a first-round match-up with the defending champions from Chicago.

Not long ago, St. Louis was the oddsmakers’ favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Today, one has to wonder if the Blues will even win four games this postseason, let alone their first championship in franchise history.

Head coach Ken Hitchcock is counting on the return of forwards T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and Vladimir Sobotka to kick-start an offense that had no trouble scoring most of the season.

“The offense goes when you get the people that have coordinated us all year coming back in,” Hitchcock said, per the Post-Dispatch. “It’s pretty simple. This (playing with replacements) is a perfect example of ‘Try like crazy, try hard, battle away,’ but you need your best players in the lineup to be going.

“When you start dropping guys out, it’s hard to create. For us, just get the players back in, get the thing coordinated, get guys back playing with people that played with each other all year and see where it goes from there.”

Meanwhile, the Blues’ big trade-deadline acquisition, goalie Ryan Miller, is confident he can rediscover the form that convinced general manager Doug Armstrong to pay a hefty price to Buffalo, despite already having a capable netminder in Jaroslav Halak.

Miller has lost his last five starts, allowing 18 goals on 125 shots, for a save percentage of .856.

“Obviously it’s been a tough stretch as far as goals-against, but I don’t feel like I’m in a really bad place,” Miller said. “I feel like I’m in a pretty good place, honestly. I know people probably will take that and just chop it up and laugh about it, but I feel pretty good.

“I can compete. I just have to worry about battling and competing. It was going to be the same job no matter what. Once you get to the playoffs everybody’s at zeros, so compete.”

The Blues entered the NHL in 1967, meaning no current franchise has been around as long as they have without winning the Cup.

This was supposed to be the year.

It still can be.

“There’s challenges in every season,” said Miller. “We’re facing ours right now. I think it can end up a positive.”

For more Pressing Playoff Questions, click here.

  1. r8rbhawk - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    As a Blackhawks fan, I hope not…

  2. slysipops - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    DITTO !!! GO HAWKS GO !

  3. trbowman - Apr 15, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    You know what they always say – playoffs are a new season.

    Well, not this time. This team’s mental cage is clearly rattled – clear lack of confidence when you watch them play.

    That said, Hitch is a great coach and I wouldn’t be shocked if he got them back on track. I think they really just need that one win to get it going. Even the first goal in game one.

    That said, I still picked the Blackhawks in 6.

    • beepbeepbeeplgb - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      agreed, that’s what i’ve been saying. the first goal of the series will be huge and obviously taking game one will be even bigger.

  4. Sean J - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Blues in 7, what else would I say?

  5. mikeyj73 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    Toews and Kane return for ‘Hawks…..Chicago in 6!!!!

  6. savior72 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Doubt it. How many teams have had a 6 game losing streak at the end of a season then went on to win the Cup?

  7. esracerx46 - Apr 15, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    I hope Chicago plays the physical game early. Rattles the already injured Blues, and doesn’t take their foot off their throat.

    The last 2 games were decisive victories for the Hawks. Hawks hopefully have their confidence back against the Blues, and the Blues have to answer all these questions. Seems their aren’t any questions for the defending champs.

  8. marshakkk - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    When the going gets tough, ryan miller turns to fluff.

  9. trmmadden34 - Apr 15, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    I want a Blues 4-0 sweep (I can dream). or a Blues series win going the full 7. This is going to be an awesome series between two great rivals. Good luck to the Hawks, but LETS GO BLUES!!!

  10. josephdj9 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Should be a great series. I go with Hawks in 7.

    • slysipops - Apr 15, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      5

  11. numbr4stuna - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    The 6 game losing streak is really taking away from the awesomeness of playing the Hawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Rivalries are made great in the playoffs and I cannot wait for this series to start. Both teams limped into the playoffs while missing their top guys so it’s hard to get a true gauge of what this series is going to be like but I hope it’s one for the ages. See you Thursday!
    LGB

  12. earpaniac - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Hawks in 7

  13. ghostof34 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    The Blues have been tough all season and this will be a good series. It’s tough to beat the Hawks 4 out of 7…for anyone. Redwings almost did it and couldn’t close it out…had the same conversation with Bruins fans last year, the “East is tougher, we big and bruising” puck possession, skill, and speed is the name of the Hawks game…and there’s waves of scorers for the Hawks, if you stop Toews, Sharp or Kane will get you, if you stop Kane, Sharp or Hossa will get you, Sharp is always going to get his, then throw in a couple dirty goals from Shaw, Maybe Bickell wakes up for the playoffs…mix that with Ryan Miller…recipe for Hawks in 6.

  14. slaugin - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    Bruins were terrible down the stretch last season but flipped the metphorical switch once the playoffs started. Blues are built a lot like the Bruins, so I wouldn’t write them off just yet. it will take leadership and desire to turn it on, I think they can but it has to happen right out of the gate because the Black Hawks are still the Stanley Cup Champs as of right now.

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