Hello my friends! I hope you are having a wonderful Monday morning here on August 10th, 2020. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are officially upon us. If you are born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and a Blues fan like me, you might have a little bit of a narsty taste in your mouth after the "Round Robin" tournament the Blues just laid an egg in. You might even think it is really stupid and frustrating to go from 1st place after 70 games to 4th place after just 3 games, but none of that matters. Its not all bad folks, there are a lot of good things going on here and we're going to give thanks for them together! Let's get it on!
1 - It doesn't matter. Its a completely brand new season and they would have had to win 4 games against a strong, playoff opponent whether they went undefeated or winless. Everything is 0-0 right now in every category.
2 - Nobody caught COVID! So far, and I say that with fingers crossed, the bubble has been unbelievably effective in creating a safe environment for the NHL to play as usual. Its actually incredibly cool how well this has worked especially in comparison to the MLB. Yes sometimes its weird there are no screaming fans in the arena and yes every series being played on the same ice surface instead of traveling back between home rinks is more anti-climactic, but folks we have real playoff hockey going on and that is a GOOD THING.
3 - There weren't any significant injuries to the Blues that we know of so far. Sammy Blais left yesterday's game against Dallas and that is obviously going to be an important bit of news to keep up with, but other than that situation, the Blues are relatively unscathed. With Tarasenko coming off a 10 month layoff, there are a lot of different ways his return could have gone, and even though it wasn't an explosive offensive return, he is in one piece heading into the playoffs and that is all we need right now.
4 - Jordan Binnington still exists.
5 - We're still not the Oilers or Penguins.
6 - The Blues are an extremely good hockey team and have just lost 3 in a row, they are absolutely due to turn it around. This team is still the defending champion and there is a reason for that, they were the most resilient team last year by far. Almost the entire roster is back and its not like they forgot what it feels like to bounce back and win tough playoff hockey games. They will get the mojo back and when they do it will feel like this never happened.
7 - The Minnesota Wild had 77 points when the season discontinued vs the Blues 94 points. We all know the bubble is its own world and everything is fresh, but that HAS to mean something good for the Blues right? The Canucks did win a series and got some mojo going, but you'd have to think its going to be a wake-up call for them going from the Wild who are talented but definitely have flaws to a team that was humming the entire season. All that being said, during the Round Robin the Blues were tasked with getting their game together against the other top 4 teams in the conference, and now get to play a team that finished the season with 78 points. You'd HAVE to think this could spark some confidence and positivity.
8 - While the offense hasn't been there for much of the Round Robin portion of the bubble, the goaltending has been really solid. Binnington looks back to playoff form and Jake Allen put on a hell of a performance yesterday against the Stars and nearly had a shutout. At the end of the day, if these two are on a roll, it gives the rest of the team a TON more leeway to figure things out.
9 - We got to watch the lowly Blackhawks celebrate a 5 game playoff qualifier victory as a "playoff series win" and see their fans get drawn back into their obnoxious ways. Now this might seem like a negative, but its going to be a nice pick-me-up when they get eliminated and immediately have to spew their troll comments about how they were so good a few years ago. Nature is healing.
10 - There isn't really a "home-ice advantage" to lose. Yes advantages like last change are important, but compared to any other year, the COVID Cup is the most opportune time in history to go from 1st to 4th in a Round Robin seeding tournament. Every game is in the same rink with the same "fans".
11 - The first win is going to be that much sweeter. All will be right in the world, and the momentum will feel even better when the breakthrough happens, hopefully in Game 1.