Vince Lombardi was quoted as saying, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.”
not confident; hesitant, unsure, insecure, meek, timid, shy, diffident, self-doubting, self-distrustful.
I’ll explain why I lead off with those words in the “My Thoughts” section at the end of this story.
The Blues outplayed Vancouver in the first period, outshooting the Canucks 15-5. The period was played largely in the Blues offensive end of the ice.
Two St. Louis power plays added to the offensive push, yet the Blues couldn’t manage to get one past red-hot goaltender Jacob Markstrom. The 28-year-old was 5-0-0 thus far in the month of December, and the Blues have had trouble figuring him out. He was the story in the opening period and stopped all 15 shots.
As good as the Blues played in the first period, the Canucks matched them in the second. In fact, they scored 2 goals in a span of 28 seconds as the pendulum of momentum totally swung in Vancouver’s direction.
Vince Dunn was called for holding just 2:02 into the period. The Blues killed that penalty, allowing just 2 shots on goal. However, an interference call on David Perron just a minute and a half after the first kill opened the door for another power-play opportunity for the Canucks. This time, they cashed in.
Rookie Elias Pettersson made a crisp pass across the slot to Bo Horvat. The puck was right on the blade of Horvat and all he had to do was steer the puck in past Allen. 17 seconds after Perron’s penalty Vancouver was on the board 1-0.
28 seconds later the Canucks charged the net and pushed another one past Jake Allen to make it 2-0.
The Blues needed to find a way to match Vancouver’s intensity and stop the bleeding. Ryan O’Reilly hit a goal post and Jaden Schwartz drew a tripping penalty to put St. Louis on the power play, but they couldn’t manage to find their offensive game. The Canucks outshot them 14-3 in the second.
Hope for a comeback was doused when Josh Leivo banked one in off the “A” in Allen on the back of his sweater. Leivo was below the goal line in the corner and the slightest forward lean by Jake off his left post allowed the puck to sneak past. It was 3-0 Vancouver.
The Blues got their only goal of the game a few minutes later when Vladimir Tarasenko powered to the net and poked one under Markstrom. It was his 2nd goal in as many games and his 11th on the season.
A faint heartbeat was detected as the Blues got the score to 3-1 on Tarasenko’s goal. They had some chances to make a game of it but Markstrom came up big every time. The lead turned out to be insurmountable as has been the case too many times this season. If memory serves me correctly, they’ve only come from behind once or twice this season to win a game.
- St. Louis drops to 13-16-4 on the season. They are 9 points out of the final wild-card spot and do have some games in hand over the teams above them. Although the flame of hope is slowing fading to a glimmer, there is still hope for a playoff spot.
- The Blues have looked like two different teams from game to game this season. I, among others, have called them a “Jekyll and Hyde”, not knowing who would show up each night. See my detailed breakdown in this story. A Tale of Two Teams. Tonight they looked like two different teams in the first and second periods. Great in the 1st. Defeated in the 2nd.
- Everyone wants to know “What’s going on?” “Why does this happen?” “Why can’t these guys figure it out?”
- I think I’m starting to see the answer. We’ve heard the players use the words ‘fragile’ and ‘not confident’ as they’ve tried to explain it. I think Chris Butler did the best job explaining it. If you missed his interview, you can watch it here. Chris Butler interview on NHL.com
- I almost felt like I could see the ‘defeat’ in them tonight when those two goals were scored. I’m not sure the fight is there to come back from the deficit, to overcome the challenges they face.
- To me, what is lacking here is true leadership. It takes a strong leader to help people overcome obstacles. Whether in business, the military, or sport, someone has to be fearless and lead the charge. Sometimes that’s a coach. Sometimes it’s a player, or players. I saw Craig Berube trying to instill confidence in them. But they have to believe it. They have to believe in themselves, in each other. And it just doesn’t seem like they do when those situations arise.
- I started this story with words that mean the opposite of ‘confident’. As I read through that list of words it seemed like a list of words that describes the Blues when they aren’t playing well. You wouldn’t use those words to describe them Tuesday night when they beat Edmonton. Nor would you have used them to describe them in the first period tonight. Yet, they fit perfectly when describing the way they looked in the 2nd and 3rd periods tonight.
- People make mistakes. Players make mistakes. This team needs someone, or a group of ‘someones’ who will step up and say, “That’s all right, boys. Shake it off and let’s go get ’em.” They need someone to lead the charge up that hill and take out the enemy. They need someone to instill confidence, someone who says, “We’re not leaving anyone behind. Pick up our wounded and carry them with us. They will heal and help us fight again.”
- We may assume that person is not already a part of this team since nobody has taken on the task. Possibly some have tried. But, if that person isn’t here, then that needs to be Doug Armstrong’s next move. Find someone to lead these guys.
- They’ve shown that they can play with anyone. There have been games where they have shut down some of the best teams and biggest threats in the league. Yet, they seem to have short memories and don’t grow from their successes. They shrink from their failures. Again, to me, that speaks to the lack of leadership on the team.
- I’m not in the locker room, so I’m not sure if I’m right or not. It’s just the way it appears to me from watching every minute of every game, every interview and listening to everything I can about the Blues.
- The final game of this trip will be Saturday afternoon in Calgary. The Flames beat the Blues last Sunday 7-2. Can the Blues get one back? Let’s hope so! Let’s go Blues!