Welcome to a special follow-up edition of Behind Enemy Lines. Today we get the perspective of St. Louis Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford, who covers the team for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Jeremy had a busy weekend and it gets busier tonight, with the Blues playing their fourth game in five nights. He was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Click the jump for the Q&A with Jeremy Rutherford
Bartl: The knock on the Blackhawks much of this season has been the lack of ability to put together a full 60 minutes (or more). What was the main difference from Blues’ first-period domination to the ‘Hawks-controlled second period, in your opinion?
Rutherford: The Blackhawks came out charging in the second period. Though the Blues are catching up, the Blackhawks obviously possess a little more skill than the Blues at this point, and when skill decides that it wants to play, it can take over. The Blues were a little flat in the second period. They had won three in a row, including a victory over Vancouver, and were starting to feel pretty good about themselves. Perhaps too good. After getting the 2-0 lead on the ‘Hawks, they took their foot off the gas and the ‘Hawks took control.
Bartl: How is the loss of Jaroslav Halak going to affect the Blues in their pursuit of the playoffs, and did you feel his absence had an impact on yesterday’s game?
Rutherford: While Halak hasn’t played great lately, his absence is definitely affecting the Blues. And if Halak doesn’t return soon, the Blues can kiss any chance at the playoffs good-bye. Ty Conklin has been a serviceable backup for 1 1/2 seasons, but he’s never been able to put the team on his back for long stretches. Ben Bishop, who got the start Monday, has been decent in his limited action, but obviously the second period was a disaster for him and the Blues. The club definitely needs its starting netminder.
Bartl: Looking at both teams as they stand right now in terms of health, talent, schedule and intangibles, do the Blackhawks or Blues have a better chance of making the postseason, and where do you think each will end up by season’s end?
Rutherford: The Blackhawks have a better chance than the Blues at playing in the postseason, and that has little to do their better position in the standings. I realized the Blackhawks’ season hasn’t gone nearly as scripted, but they’re still a very talented team and again they have the skill to compete with anybody. They also have the experience after last year’s long playoff run. If they can get Joel Quenneville back healthy and play with a lot more consistency, they should be fine.