You’ve heard it a zillion times. The two goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. Pretty hard to argue because with the two goal cushion, you can breathe a little easier, you are comfortably ahead. The opposition simply cannot afford to let you score that third goal. But if they score, they are back in the game, breathing down your neck, threatening to tie it up with one more snap shot.
What about the two game lead? Well, it really isn’t that much different. We feel comfortably ahead. We cruised through those first two games, even though they were arguably closer than we’d care to admit. Don’t know about you, but I didn’t relax until Henrik put in the empty netter. Yep, we won those first two, but I can understand St Lou’s optimism today. They figure a couple of inches inside on an Andy MacDonald shot, and those games could easily have had different outcomes.
But they didn’t and we are up two games. And if you poll the fans, most will admit that they figure this afternoon’s game is the Blues’ best chance. And then we come back and win the fourth game before returning to the safety of the west coast.
And the truth is, St Louis will come out hard today. They know they can’t afford to let us win game three. They still believe they can come back…and that belief will grow to mamouth proportions if they win today. So, what do we do?
Well, no matter what, we don’t panic. We keep playing our game.
I remember 1994, like a lot of you old farts, and Toronto was facing elimination against the upstart Canucks. The professional media out of Toronto totally dissed the Canucks before the series began. And our guys lost the first game. Of course, the eastern pros said with their smug haircuts. And then our boys stormed back with three straight victories. And in that final Western Conference game, Toronto peeled off three quick goals in the first period. And our guys just kept picking away, picking away. Didn’t panic, didn’t change the game plan. And we came back to tie it up. Adams won it in OT and Toronto never stopped crying.
We have a chance, an opportunity today. The Blues players believe that home ice will give them the game today. I like that. Because that’s where experience makes the difference. St Lou believes they will come out flying today and eventually we will crumble. They will hit our D and they will crowd our crease and they hope…nay, expect they will be rewarded with some goals. Hell, even Tony Gallagher is picking the Blues.
Again, I like that. It gives the Blues a comfort zone they don’t deserve. And that is our opportunity…our opening. We can crush some dreams today. Stomp on some expectations. But it will take smart positional hockey. Now that St Lou is back at home, we really do need to stay out of the box. We need to use our legs to match their speed. We need to hammer them right back. We need to shoot the puck, shoot the puck and then shoot the puck.
If we are smart, we can crush some young egos.