The St. Louis Blues were in control of their playoff destiny coming into the final game of the regular season this past Saturday night, right where they wanted to be according to head coach Mike Yeo. St. Louis entered their final game a point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot after a statement 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues were in a tough spot facing two games in as many nights, playing some of their toughest hockey of the season with their postseason dreams in the balance.
St. Louis came into Colorado needing only one point to secure a playoff spot against the Nashville Predators. This meant that win or loss, as long as the Blues took the game into overtime they would be moving into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. St. Louis had to battle most of the game without their top scorer Vladimir Tarasenko after he left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. His help was certainly needed.
The Avalanche proved to be too much for the Blues notching an impressive 5-2 win. St. Louis got a little help on the offensive end by Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn who both had a goal and assist on the night. The Blues just couldn’t handle the Colorado power play which was third best in the NHL, as Tyson Barry tallied a goal with the man advantage. Colorado was also led by Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, one assist) and Gabriel Landeskog (one goal two assists) to the final wild-card spot. The Avalanche finished their season with 95 points, an increase of 47 points from last year. Colorado is only the second team in NHL history to improve by 40+ points from one season to the next, according to NHL.com.
Meanwhile, the Blues season is over, and they’ve missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. But where should the “blame” go? Well, the goalie situation in St. Louis is a messy one. The Blues let veteran goalie Brian Elliott walk after the 2015-16 season to pave the way for youngster Jake Allen. Allen has shown signs of greatness wearing the blue note but his inconsistency between the pipes has fans wondering if he isn’t the answer. Along with goalie problems, the glaring issue St. Louis had this season was their power play. The Blues had 246 opportunities while on the power play this season and only converted 38 times coming away with a 15.4 percent success rate, third worst in the league.
The Blues will need to continue developing their young players Vince Dunn, Tage Thompson, Ivan Barbashev, and Jordan Schmaltz this offseason along with rehabbing countless injuries that held them out of the playoffs. The Blues organization is still looking towards the future for hopes of finally lifting the Stanley Cup and bringing a championship to the Gateway to the West. In the meantime, players and executives can improve their golf swings and watch the NHL playoffs from their couches, on the outside looking in.