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Game #80 – Blues vs. Hawks Q&A: A Hive Of Scum And Villainy

We went months without have to talk to @StLouisGametime. We were happy. We were optimistic. Food tasted good. There was dancing and revelry and mirth. And now it’s all ruined. Go ahead, it’s too late, everything’s ruined…

Quite the renaissance for the Blues lately. Tell us why it’s more than just an unforeseeable heater from Jordan Binnington?
First of all, I’m writing this a few minutes after the Hawks gave the Jets breakaway practice in overtime keeping the Jets two points ahead of the Blues with three games for each left on the schedule. Why not just pull the goddamn goalie? Corey Crawford deserved better. Dicks. Wait, you want me to answer the question? Of course Binnington is on a hot streak. One that started in early February. It’s now April. Dicks. He’s beaten the Lightning twice, a team trying to break NHL records for wins and points in a season. Quite a hot streak. Look, these Blues were horrible. They were tied with the Senators for last in the league in points on Jan. 3. Their comeback to second in the division is nearly unprecedented. There are some reasons. They play better in front of Binnington and not with clenched buttholes in front of Jake Allen. The defensemen have been scoring goals and actually playing defense. The Blues are almost as good at shot suppression as when Hithcock was the head coach. Ryan O’Reilly continues to push this team every night. I’ll get to Tarasenko in a second, but they’re getting some depth scoring. Robert Thomas is going to be a pain in the ass for Hawks fans for years to come. He’s 19. The Blues have made this climb as a team and not just because of a hot goaltender.
What do we make of Tarasenko? He got his second coach fired earlier this season, is coming in for a pretty low 65 points, and there was buzz earlier in the year the Blues might check out the market for him. Yet he’s been much better under Berube. 
Oh, I guarantee they were checking the market on Tarasenko. Aggressively. The Blues sent out season ticket renewals early. Really early, in January. They moved it up before the trade deadline because they were going to move at least one fan favorite if not more. Tarasenko was on every rumor twitter account. Schenn’s name popped up. Toronto started circling Pietrangelo like hungry buzzards. Some shit was going to hit the fan because this core of players was imploding. They had the excuse that the All-Star game is coming to town next season, so there was that carrot to dangle ticket holders. But they were deathly afraid to ask for renewals after unloading some popular players. And then they started winning and crisis was averted. With Tarasenko specifically, his shoulder surgery in the offseason took more out of him than I think he ever admitted. And Tarasenko can apparently be a little mercurial. Shit, sorry for the big word, Hawks fans. He can be accused of being moody. When his game is off, he overpasses. When he should should more to break a slump, he shoots less. Combine that with a slight downturn from Schenn and Jaden Schwartz not being able to hit the broadside of Nebraska for much of the season, the offense was a mess. During the 11-game winning streak, P.K. Subban woke 91 up. There was a play on a Saturday afternoon game where Subban was trying to get physical behind the play. Tarasenko basically said fuck off and then next shift scored a goal. He got animated. He got fired up. He got tired of the bullshit. The next afternoon in Nashville, he scored a hat trick, the third being the OT game-winner. He’s been a different player since. Craig Berube didn’t have anything to do with it. I will say this about Chief, he earned a contract at the beginning of that winning streak. He got a raise making the playoffs. He could get a bigger one depending on how long the Blues’ season lasts.
Have they finally let Vinnie Dunn Bag Of Donuts off the leash?
Saturday night he was on the ice in overtime. He split two Devils players, drove hard to the net, poked it in and went flying as the goal lamp lit with three seconds to play. He was so far ahead of his teammates, he stood by himself for a couple seconds with his arms wide waiting for some guys to come hug him. But here’s the thing with Dunn. He can make electrifying plays. He can skate with the puck. He has a nice shot that could become a good shot. He’s got the vision. But goddammit, the guy still takes dumb risks. Against Toronto, again during the epic and shocking streak, the Blues had a 2-0 lead at the end of the first. As time expired, Dunn made a dumbass play with the puck that could have gone the other way for a goal as time expired. There was video of Berube waiting by the bench door for Dunn to come off the ice and he fucking unloaded on him. But to Berube’s credit, Dunn hasn’t been scratched for some time. He’s getting primo minutes. He’s got to find that knife’s edge of being daring and aggressive vs. stupid and risky. When he figures that out, look the fuck out.
Whether it’s the Preds or Jets, will the cantankerous Blues fanbase be happy with a one and done or does the second half have you lot hungry for more?
I’m fucking torn on this one. Like I said, they were tied with Ottawa in January. The Blues got booed nearly every game at home. They got blown out by the Flames. By the Canucks. By the Coyotes. It was a weird time to be alive. There’s a fake Jay Bouwmeester twitter account that in December declared if the Blues made the playoffs, he’d get Bouwmeester tattooed on his ass. The Blues actually called him out on it. What I’m trying to say is no one thought they’d be in this situation. It wasn’t realistic. It was like saying the Hawks would make the playoffs back in January and they actually did it. No fucking way, right? Same with the Blues. Same. So, it’s kind of like they’re playing with house money. Not supposed to be here, just happy to be here, won’t be here for long. On the other hand, think of it this way. If you fell into a coma right before the season started and you woke up today with the Blues battling for one of the top three spots in the division, you wouldn’t be surprised at all. You’d think it was a helluva season. Should fan expectations be based on October through much of January or what the expectations were going into the season? Maybe the team we thought they built was actually the team we thought they built. Maybe they needed some extra time playing together. Who the fuck knows. Here’s what I do know: the Blues are going to be a tough out. Colorado threw everything they had at St. Louis to stay in the playoff hunt. And the Blues responded. Sure, they gave up the game-tying goal with under a minute to play, but they were dangerous in overtime and they won the shootout. The Avs brought a high level of intensity and the Blues matched it. That’s a great sign to me. In New York last Friday, the Rangers played a boring game and the Blues played just as uninspired. They’ve answered the bell against the best teams in the league the last two months. There’s nothing to say the Blues won’t answer the bell when the playoffs start.
The last time Hawks fans saw the Blues up close and personal, they were garbage. They weren’t playing together. The goaltending was a mess. Mike Yeo was a dolt. They were bad, bad, bad. Please, Hawks fans. Make a shit ton of noise Wednesday night. Ratchet up the intensity in the building. Get the blood flowing in this rivalry and the Blues will show you the team they’ve become. Have fun golfing, and talk to you next season!

 

Game #80 Preview Suite

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Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

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