Imagine you’re in the sales department for a mid-level corporation. Every year you have that one account that you spend a ton of resources on. The big fish. You prepare better than every other sales representative from other companies, and you’re better at locking down clients who don’t mean that much. Yet, when it comes to the big fish you constantly fall short and larger companies snatch up that big account. Now 2016 rolls around and your bosses and investors are tired of seeing the same old story every year. Now you have to land that big fish, or you lose your job.
That’s potentially the situation in St. Louis these days. Ken Hitchcock is the sales rep, along with the rest of the coaching staff and probably a handful of players. Blues brass, the “bosses”, and Blues fans, the “investors”, can’t justify sticking with this group if they fail to get out of the first round again. Hitchcock is receiving a ton of heat for limiting Tarasenko to just over sixteen minutes, and the Russian let him know that he wasn’t happy. If I’m Q, I’m just giggling on the other side of the glass knowing I’ve yet again put together a line that has baffled his counterpart in St. Louis.
Hitchcock has survived because he kills it in the regular season. He lands those mid-range clients. The Blues are so good for the 82 game stretch it’s sick, but they simply haven’t proven they can get over the hump. When the big fish is up for grabs, Hitchcock and his team just can’t figure it out. It would be even worse this year. They had the Hawks on the ropes, up 3-1 going back to St. Louis for game 5. That’s like having that top account with the pen in their hand ready to sign the contract. It’s unfortunate for St. Louis, because the talent level has been there for a Stanley Cup.
It’s obviously not written in stone that the Hawks advance tonight. The Blues have been much more resilient in this series than they have in the past. They’re also a much better team than they have been in the past. One bounce here or there and the Hawks are out. Am I not giving the Hawks enough credit? Probably. They’ve been the better team this series without question. They’ve fought back without getting a goal from the captain yet. But if the Hawks lose tonight, the reaction will be to chalk it up to a lack of depth on the blue line. The core is still intact, and as long as the core is still intact they’ll be back. However, if the Blues lose…oh my. Aside from the brains of every Blues fan exploding, there will be consequences that may result in people losing jobs.