Saturday, May 22, 2021

Blues backed into corner down 3-0 in series to Avalanche, must come out swinging in Game 4

Only four NHL teams in history have overcome 0-3 series deficit 
to win; Blues have been in this scenario nine times, swept in eight

ST. LOUIS -- The task seems daunting. In fact, well, it is.

Right now for the Blues, Jim Carrey's famous, "So you're telling me there's a chance," won't sit too well with the fan base. But technically, it's true. They still have a chance, but barely.
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Blues defenseman Torey Krug takes a shot in Game 3 of their playoff series
against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

Down 3-0 in their first round best-of-7 series against the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues are down to their last life, and teams in this situation don't stand much of a chance.

In fact, only four teams out of 194 opportunities in NHL history has a team overcome a 0-3 series deficit to win. That's a two-percent success ratio, which isn't great. 

They are: 

* 1942 - Toronto Maple Leafs over the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final.
* 1975 - New York Islanders over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a conference quarterfinal.
* 2010 - Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins in a conference semifinal.
* 2014 - Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

And for the Blues and their history, they're 0-for-9 in this scenario. In fact, in eight of those series in which they fell behind 0-3, they've been swept.

Not great odds there.

But it all starts with Game 4 at Enterprise Center on Sunday at 4 p.m. (BSMW, NBCSN, ESPN 101.1-FM) when the Blues will try to keep their season alive and avoid getting knocked out in the first round for the second straight season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2019.

"It's do-or-die time," Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly said. "We have to come together and find a way here. It's not going to be easy, but we have to focus on the next game.

"It's time to leave it all out there now and try to fight our way back into this. It's not going to be easy, but it's do-or-die time."

The Blues have been outscored by a whopping 15-5 margin in the series, but four of those Colorado goals have been empty-netters. Even discounting those, the Blues are averaging 1.67 goals per game, while the Avalanche is averaging 2.75 per game, five per game counting the empty-net goals.

"Any player you're counting on to produce and wants to produce and is not producing, I'm sure their confidence is not as high as we want it to be or they'd want it to be," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "On the other side of things, we showed some real good video of the game last night, things that we did real well and opportunities that we had to score goals and just competitive clips how hard we were working in the game. 

"Our guys are where they're at (confidence-wise), they're pretty good, I think. They understand, like, go win a game tomorrow and then it changes everything in my opinion. Momentum's a funny thing. You get a win tomorrow, you know you can get on a little roll."

A good place to start would be to get a lead, something the Blues haven't had in this series. They've been playing catch-up hockey from the start, and even though they were scoreless in the first period of Game 3 Friday, it didn't take long before the Avalanche once again struck first and were playing from ahead.

"I think just getting the first goal, to be honest," defenseman Torey Krug said. "I think just playing with the lead. If we do that, it just gives our team some confidence. Guys get excited playing with the lead. Get our skill guys some touches and all of the sudden, they're feeling good about their game. Now we can just go out and go on a roll. I think that would be the one thing that's our main goal tomorrow."

If anyone can instill some wisdom on what it takes to overcome a 0-3 deficit, it's Berube, who was an assistant coach on Peter Laviolette's Flyers team in 2010 that downed the Bruins.

"He talked about how it kind of had the same kind of feeling where we're right there every game and just were unable to get the win at the end of it," forward Robert Thomas said. "So I think it's just about staying positive, sticking with what we're doing and finding a way to get over that hump."

After losing 5-4 in overtime in Game 1, 3-2 in Game 2 and 4-1 in Game 3, the Flyers turned things around and won Game 4, 5-4 in OT, 4-0 in Game 5, 2-1 in Game 6 and 4-3 in Game 7.

"Similar scenarios I talked about with the team today," Berube said. 'Listen, we played Boston and we were down 0-3 but really played pretty good hockey up to that point, but again, didn't get a bounce here or there and that's what it really boils down to. We turned it around. We won a game, you get some momentum and confidence, you go win another game and now it's a series. 

"Other than the first two periods in Colorado (of Game 1), the games are pretty even or we were better at times in my opinion at some points and they were probably better at some points too. I take two periods out of the series and it's a pretty good series so far. We get a bounce here or there, do a better job maybe defending a play here or there and we're not down 0-3, but you can't worry about that. We've got to move on and get ready for tomorrow's game and we need everybody to compete at a high level and give us our best game tomorrow."
(St. Louis Blues/Scott Rovak)
Forward Robert Thomas (left), said the Blues need to stick with working and
getting over the hump against Andre Burakovsky (right) and the Avalanche. 

What the Blues have to steer clear from is that they're down 3-0 in the series and stay in the here and the now. Because nothing else really matters, but it can be tough not looking at the big picture.

"It is and it isn't," Krug said. "You're right, it does seem ... if you look at the scope of things, it seems like a very high hill to climb. You're at the bottom of the mountain and you've got to get up there, you're facing a good team and you've got to collect four wins in a row, but that being said, you can't accomplish that feat if you don't look at it one game at a time and just focus on tomorrow. We've got to talk about that as a group and understand the circumstances. But if you don't do the job tomorrow, then you don't have the opportunity to win the next game and so on. It definitely is challenging."

* NOTES -- Berube said defensemen Justin Faulk and Robert Bortuzzo, both sustaining upper-body injuries due to head shots in Game 2, are doubtful for Game 4. ... Vince Dunn's status is once again uncertain despite the defenseman skating during an optional on Saturday. Berube said the coaching staff wait for Dunn to tell them he's ready to play and then they make the decision whether to put him in or not. Dunn has missed 14 straight games dating to the regular season. ... Defenseman Jake Walman, removed from the league's COVID-19 protocol list on Friday, has a chance to return to the lineup; he's missed the past six games. ... Forwards David Perron and Nathan Walker remain on the protocol list.

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