It was a rough road going in, but the Blues put up a valiant effort against the reigning Champion Los Angeles Kings. However, the momentum was difficult to sustain and the Blues couldn’t hold on, eventually just getting outplayed by a better team.
St. Louis’ season ended with Game 6, even though the Blues won the first two games of the series. Taking those first two games away, it’s possible to say that the Blues got swept out of the playoffs.
But the difference in those two games wasn’t the stellar play or the offensive power, more on those later. No, in those two games the Blues just wanted it more. Simple as that. The desire, the passion to win was more evident on the Blues bench than it was on the Kings’, therefore, the Blues found ways to win. That’s what championship winning teams do. Their passion forces them to find a way to win. In the last four games of the series, the Blues didn’t have that.
Defensively, the Blues did all they could. Every game in the series was low-scoring, and all final scores were held to one-goal games. Brian Elliott did fantastic in net for St. Louis and deserves recognition for keeping his team in the series as far as they were. The Blues were able to go, punch-for-punch with the defending champs, even going into overtime. Defensively, the Blues stayed with the Kings all series long.
The chink in the armor was the offense. St. Louis’ top line, the guys who are expected to put pucks in the net on a regular basis were absent throughout the series. Contributing by taking up ice-time, but not on the score-sheet. When a team has offensive talent, and produces little to no offense, they aren’t going to win clutch games. St. Louis didn’t.
During post-game interviews starting players used words like “unacceptable” and coach Ken Hitchcock talked about his team coming short of championship-quality. The team knows they got out-performed. That may be the toughest pill to swallow. The Blues are 2-12 in their last 14 games with the Kings. The Kings have the Blues figured out, and it’s frustrating.
Now it’s time to take a closer look at the season, as solid as it was. Take a microscope to the roster and see who will be returning next season and who can look forward to a new sweater and a fresh start to go with it. But off-season talk right now is a little too soon. Blues fans can take time to reflect on the positives of the season and take comfort in the fact that the Blues are now expected invites to post-season play. Just like they will be next year. Teams will be looking out for the Blues, knowing that they will have a chip on their shoulders and still more to prove.
Maybe that’s what the Blues really need. A little anger, a fire, that passion under the Blue Note that gets carried to every game, in every arena. That bitter hurt that comes with a disappointing loss which inspires the extra stride, harder pass, or quicker shot. Maybe St. Louis needed to lose this year to push them further next season. Maybe frustration is a good thing.