Say goodbye to the Blues, who couldn’t put the Blackhawks away
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I don’t want to say it’s over, but how do you like your Blues cooked? Well-done? Charred around the edges? Or bloody?
If you go by all the signs that point to one team asserting itself over another, then you know this first-round series is over. And you should go by those signs because they mean something. They mean something to the Blackhawks. And they most definitely mean something to the Blues.
There’s a Game 7 to be played Monday night, and it will be ferocious. The Blues are tough and talented, but they have a problem with history and with breathing.
The Hawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions, are finding themselves again, just in time. No, they don’t always look like the dominant teams of the recent past. But with that Game 6 victory on Saturday night, a game in which they trailed 3-1 and then scored five unanswered goals, they basically thanked the Blues for stopping by. Whatever you want to call momentum – supreme belief, energy, the Force being with them – the Hawks have it now.
There is a carryover effect from season to season, which is why the second round looks a million miles away to the Blues. They lost in the first round the previous two seasons.
“We got Game 7 at home,’’ Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Saturday night. “It’s the best-case scenario that we could have hoped for. We had a dream for getting this matchup and getting home-ice advantage. That’s what we’ve earned, and we’re going to keep it.’’
As someone rightly pointed out to Hitchcock during his postgame press conference, the best-case scenario for the Blues was finishing off the Hawks in Game 5 at the Scotttrade Center. They did not, which is why their breathing passages feel so constricted right now.
Before Game 7 of the Western Conference final last year, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he wouldn’t be surprised if his team trailed the Hawks 1-0 early in the contest. “Win one for the Gipper,’’ it wasn’t.
This is what the Hawks do to teams. They make them doubt themselves. They make them say things that point to surrender. After blowing a 3-1 series lead, the Blues are questioning themselves. The only thing the Hawks are questioning is when the second round will start.