On Tap: Three “Must Wins”
Are the next three games by definition must win games? No, mathematically the Blues could still be very much alive if the team dropped the next three on the road against the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild. Mathematically they would still be in it. Realistically however, they need to win three very winnable games to still be in the thick of this playoff hunt.
These games aren’t must wins, but are the ones you should win and need to win. The Isles (14th in the East), Wild and Blue Jackets (12th and 14th in the West) all rank below the Blues, and are “easy” points before the Blues have to take on Colorado, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils in consecutive matchups.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story today on the Blues upcoming favorable matchups on this road trip. Jeremy Rutherford poses the same thought I am here, suggesting that the Blues really would be doing themselves a favor collecting all six of the six possible points in these three games.
Dropping one of these three would not be the end of the world, but it would put the Blues in a sticky situation, especially if the teams around them play well and collect points themselves.
I mentioned it earlier this season: Win the games you’re supposed to win. Ahead, starting tonight against the Islanders, are three games this Blues side is supposed to win – assuming they give a complete effort. On paper the Blues are the better side, but that obviously means nothing which is why they play the games.
Now is not the time for laziness or sloppy efforts. Now is the time to play like your season is on the line because now is the time it actually could be.
Chris Mason needs to bring the performances we saw during the Blues’ five game winning streak as opposed to whatever that was we saw against Colorado. The defense needs to clamp down, make smart decisions and avoid giving the puck away in high pressure situations. The offense just needs to keep doing what it’s been doing – can’t argue with 26 goals in the previous six games.
The Blues’ playoff picture is still a question mark and the team will need numerous things to go their way to wiggle their way into a top-8 seed. If they don’t take care of business starting against the Isles tonight, we might have an answer to the question of whether this team will be playing beyond April 10th.