Just like those who ventured westward in the 1800s to make a new life for themselves, the Blues head west with an opportunity to make new life for them in the playoff chase.
As I write this, the Blues are just a few seconds into the first period of their game versus the San Jose Sharks, in San Jose. Tonight is the first game of a Western swing through San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. Then the West comes to St. Louis in the form of the Avalanche
There are just 15 games remaining after tonight, and the Blues start this Western swing on the outside looking in at the playoff seeds. These games are vital to their playoff hopes; they need to bank points. All four of the teams the Blues will play over the next few days are ahead of them in the standings. West coast swings are never easy, for any team. It’s a lot of travel and a lot of hockey, and the opponents are usually very tough. We all remember the Sharks took down the Blues not long ago in the Western Conference Finals.
The Blues don’t have a full complement. News broke this week that defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will miss the remainder of the season with an injury. And forward Scottie Upshall also will miss significant time. Jordan Schmaltz will get more playing time, and forwards like Ivan Barbashev and Nikita Soshnikov figure to see more ice time also.
The team hasn’t played since last Saturday. They’ve had plenty of time to meditate, recharge, and prepare themselves for this stretch run. More is needed from every player on the roster. This is also an opportunity for low production players to up their game and show they belong on the club for next season.
Will the Blues overcome the adversity that’s sure to come on this western swing? Or will the challenges overcome them and leave them parched in the wilderness? We will soon know.
Godspeed, Blues. I’m pulling for you.