The St. Louis Blues entered the week leading up to the trade deadline looking like a team that was going to jump right back into the playoff fray. One week later, the Blues are in shambles and falling fast.
The week began with a matchup against the Colorado Avalanche and the return of just-traded Erik Johnson and Jay McClement. What should have been an emotional game for both parties turned into a flat performance by the home team and revenge for EJ.
The Blues allowed Colorado to jump out to an early 2-0 lead but fought back to tie the game after two. In the third, the game changed on a harmless puck thrown at the net by EJ, which slipped past Ty Conklin and gave the Avs the lead and EJ his revenge. Paul Stastny made it 4-2 a minute-and-a-half later.
The Blues didn’t give up, though, and Chris Stewart made it 4-3 just 22 seconds later. The Blues continued to pepper Peter Budaj with shots until the horn sounded, but just could not figure the big goaltender out. This loss would start a painful week for Blues fans.
Two nights later, the Blues started their Western Canada swing in Vancouver. Once again, the Blues surrendered the first two goals of the game, only to come storming back in the second to tie it up. And just like the last game, the Blues failed to finish strong.
Manny Malhotra scored 1:05 into the third for a 3-2 lead and the Canucks were able to hold the lead even without Roberto Luongo in net.
The following night in Edmonton, Blues fans' hopes were raised again as the team played one of its best all-around games of the season, albeit it was against one of the worst teams in the league. The Blues exploded for a five-goal outburst, and Ben Bishop recorded his first career NHL shutout.
Chris Stewart continued his torrid start for the Blues, as he notched another two-goal game. Patrik Berglund had another goal to boost his point total over 40 for the second time in three seasons.
With the two points earned in Edmonton, the Blues stayed within seven points of a playoff spot heading into a home-and-home with eighth-seeded Calgary.
The Blues and Flames were locked in a tight checking battle in Calgary on Sunday with Bishop and Kiprusoff making many key saves to keep the score at zero.
Consistent with the Blues' M.O. this season, however, a turnover in the defensive zone late in the third period let David Moss rip a puck by an un-set Bishop for the game's only goal. Of Moss’ 16 goals on the year, four of them are against the Blues.
After the game the Blues shipped off the enigmatic Brad Boyes to the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round pick in the 2011 entry draft. Boyes had fallen from a top-line scorer to a third-line assist man, and at $4 million a year was too highly paid to keep in that position.
This move almost officially signaled the end of the playoff attempt, but it wasn’t the final bell for the Blues. That came on Tuesday night at home against the same Calgary Flames.
The Blues allowed the first goal once again in this game, as Alex Tanguay opened the scoring in the first. That goal was the only one scored in the first two periods, and it looked like Bishop and Kiprusoff were in for another epic battle, but things would turn ugly in the third.
The Flames shot accuracy in the third was a bit unreal, as they put five of eight shots past Bishop to throw the game wide open. Jarome Iginla scored twice and David Moss, Robyn Regehr and Niklas Hagman also scored, ending the Blues' playoff hopes.
The Blues finished the week 1-4-0 and now sit nine points out of the playoffs with a tough week ahead as they battle the Capitals, Islanders and Blue Jackets. While the playoffs may be out of reach, hopefully this team will continue to fight to stay out of the cellar of the West and give fans hope that next year will be better.