As the Blues’ Playoff Hopes Fade, Is “Message Sending” Passe?

Saturday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild(s) was mortifying in so much that the team didn’t even appear to put forth an effort until the end of the game. That’s been the case often this season; or, possibly worse, the Blues forget that they have to play three periods of hockey and blow good games in the third period. You know, like they did on Friday night, again to the Wild(s).

The Blues are 3-4-3 over their last ten games, a record only surpassed in badness by the slumping Dallas Stars (3-6-1) and the free-falling Colorado Avalanche (1-9-0). Their away record is 8-13-5; teams aren’t intimidated by the Blues, despite the fact that they’re third in the league in fighting majors. Of course, why should teams be intimidated – most of these fighting majors seem to come in the final seconds of games that the Blues have already lost. No one’s intimidated by frustration. No one cares if, after you’ve lost a game, you want to rough up some guys from the opposition’s team to “send a message.” Heck, the only message that sends is one of “hey, we can’t bring it when we need to, but by God, we will jump you when it doesn’t matter!” Ooooooooo. Scary.

I love my team. I love the fact that the Blues don’t back down, and that they’re rough and tumble. I love David “All that is man” Backes, and Barret Jackman, and Cam Janssen, and everyone on the team who plays a good blue-collar brand of game. This is why I’m a Western Conference girl, and I can’t stand Eastern Conference teams. I’ve always felt that they lack grit and character, and only throw down when things get out of control – look at last week’s Habs/Bruins game, or the Pens/Islanders brawl. The teams only fought when they didn’t need to anymore. That’s what the Blues are starting to do, and it’s embarrassing.

Fight during the course of the game. Stand up for your teammates, even after the buzzer goes. Don’t all out line brawl. Yes, I know Backes was trying to protect Steen, but is skating away from a fight with three seconds in the game looking like THIS even necessary?

Ow.

Ok, so this isn’t as bad as it looks, but why? Why do this to yourself? Why not put that oomph into the game and score a goal or two? I’m not calling Backes out for fighting or for not scoring, because he’s very productive on the ice, and his fights are usually appropriate message senders. Saturday wasn’t appropriate.

If you want to send a message, win the damned hockey game. Tonight they have a chance to rebound a little bit and send a message to the Canucks. I don’t know what kind of message a 13th place team that’s eight points out of the playoffs can send, but a message through play is a lot more effective than a message through a fight that still winds up with you losing the game. You at least don’t look like a bunch of talentless goons, which is something that the Blues aren’t – and don’t need to look like anyway.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.