I don't think there is a better word to describe what the St. Louis Blues have been able to do, or not do, when holding a big lead in the third period than "collapse". Perhaps the most epic of collapses, based on the playoff magnitude of the game, was the most recent game, against the Ducks.
The Blues let a three-goal third period lead disintegrate at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, who came into the game with 53 points, two up on the Blues, who also have a game in hand. In layman's terms, if the Blues held on to win the game, they would be dead even with the Ducks with 53 points with still a game in hand. Coupled with a regulation loss by Detroit and the Flames idle, the Blues could have only been 5 points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand on several clubs.
I think the Blues were aware of those numbers and what that game meant for their playoff hopes. So I am puzzled as to why they didn't have that killer instinct and put the Ducks away. Yes they had some golden opportunities to score a fourth or fifth goal in that game, but they just simply didn't get the job done, and the Ducks played with the kind of urgency and fire that a team fighting for their playoff lives should play with. I just didn't see it in the Blues.
Yet another third period collapse got me thinking as to how many games the Blues have lost in this fashion this season, because it definitely seems like too many.
When I look back to just how many points the Blues have given away through their collapses, the number I came up with is staggering. These are games where the Blues have had multiple-goal leads in the third period and saw them vanish, leaving the Blues scratching and clawing to weasel a single point out of the affair.
Blues fans, I hate to look into the past and remind you of these painful and often excruciating memories, but here's a list of these collapses, and afterward, you can see just how many points the Blues could and SHOULD have at this point in the season, if they could have just put their opponents away and preserved big leads.
Nov 25th @ Dallas:
A nail-biter of a game is tied going into the third period, when T.J. Oshie scores a huge go-ahead goal with nine minutes left. The Blues held that lead until Brendan Morrow tied the game at three with 26 seconds left in the game. Luckily the Blues are able to win the game in a shootout, 4-3. No points lost.
Nov 28th vs Detroit:
Just three nights later it happens again. The Blues build a two-goal lead and see the Red Wings chip away at it and eventually tie it early in the third. Brad Boyes seemed to have saved the Blues with a go-ahead goal a few minutes later, but Henrik Zetterberg banked one off Chris Mason's back and it to even up the score with 57 seconds remaining. Blues lost the game in a shootout. 1 point lost.
Dec 5th @ LA:
A 2-2 game going into the third, the Kings score a big goal early to put them ahead. But the Blues answer back in a wild third period, with two goals of their own, both by Paul Kariya. Blues would hold that lead until, you guessed it, the last minute of play, when Alex Frolov scores with 34 seconds left in the game. Blues manage to win the game in a shootout. No points lost.
Dec 11th vs Edmonton:
This may be the most embarrassing Blues collapse of the season. This one featured a back goal the Blues gave up in the last minute of the second period, that set the table for what was to come in the third. Blues build a three-goal lead and are dominating...until Gilbert Brule scores with 11 seconds left in the second period, stealing momentum from the Blues and taking it into the Oilers locker room to build on for the third. And the third period was ugly. Edmonton scored four more goals as the Blues fell apart in every facet of the game. In all, FIVE unanswered goals, and the Oilers steal one at Scottrade, 5-3. 2 points lost.
Dec 31st vs Vancouver:
The Blues gave the Canucks a great New Year's present. They laid down after having a 3-0 lead and let the Canucks score the next three and send it into overtime. The Blues made progress however, they didn't give up the game-tying goal in the last minute of play, they gave it up with 1:56 left. Christian Ehrhoff scored in overtime and the Blues lost another heart breaker in front of the home crowd. 1 point lost.
Jan 6th @ San Jose:
This one wasn't as big of a collapse, but the Blues did reinforce to the hockey world that they cannot keep a lead in the third period. The Blues led 1-0 until the 12-minute mark of the third when Patrick Marleau tied the game and sent it to overtime, where Dany Heatley won it for the Sharks. 1 point lost.
Jan 7th @ Anaheim:
Barret Jackman broke a tie in the first minute of the third period and the Blues seemed on their way to a big road win. But three unanswered goals later the Ducks were heading to the locker room with a win. 2 points lost.
Jan 20th @ Montreal:
Blues build a two-goal lead early in the first period, give one up, and then score right back to make it 3-1 after the first period. That lead would vanish, with Mike Cammalleri scoring the game-tying goal, you guessed, with 33 seconds left. Blues managed to win the game in overtime. No points lost.
Jan 23rd vs Anaheim:
The Blues have a 3-0 lead in the third period and watch it disappear, as the hungrier Ducks team scores three, including Bobby Ryan tying the game with, you guessed it, 30 seconds left in the game, and Anaheim taking it in the shooout. 1 point lost.
If you add up the total points lost, the Blues have blown 8 points through their collapses this year so far, and hypothetically adding those points to their current point total, and the Blues would have 60 points and eighth in the Western Conference. Only one point behind Los Angeles and Nashville for seventh and sixth in the conference. But then again, if the Blues had held on against some of the clubs above them, maybe the Kings don't have that extra point or two. And Anaheim would have three less points on their total.
My overall point to these statistics is this: Everybody has high expectations for the Blues after how they finished last season and made the playoffs as the sixth seed. But in reality, I believe this team could have been just that good if not for some brutal and demoralizing losses this year where they should have had wins. If they preserve the lead in maybe half of the games they let get away, this team COULD be somewhere close to expectations, but still ont where they CAN be.
Please leave your comments, I really want to know what Blues nation thinks. Thanks for reading.