There are more causes of death for the Blues this postseason than there are bodies at the Body Farm. This was the closest series I can remember watching in the playoffs for a long time, and I remember thinking after the first game that there wasn't going to be much room for error. There wasn't. Each game was decided by a goal, each game had big hits and hard hockey, and each game was immensely winnable for either team.
That's what makes this series loss so frustrating. The Blues could have won. Why didn't they? At the risk of wallowing in misery, because that's what we as Blues fans are so consistently good at, there are two particular chronic problems that the Blues can't seem to address. They need a finisher, and they need a playmaker. The bulk of our team are big guys who clear space. Sure, they can score - and they should score (which we'll get to here in a second) - but that's not really their job. On any other team, the Blues' scorers would be ancillary guys, or the guys you turn to for punch and support scoring. While I love that the Blues are grinding and hard hitting - which is what made this series so much fun to watch, and is a big characteristic of the Kings as well - the fact that they can't manage more than one or two goals a game is disconcerting. It's a symptom of the bigger problem at large.
The Blues' hometown guys got called out by Hitchcock in his postgame comments, and that's great. The playmaker that should succeed, David Perron, spent most of his season dangling his way into the penalty box. It's not all Perron's fault, of course. Who was he going to set up? Who consistently threatened to score? The defense? Alex Steen? Those were the only guys who were a threat in this series.
But they couldn't hit the broad side of the barn. No one could. You want a depressing read? Check out Bernie's column today at STLToday.com:
In the series the Blues missed the net on shots 101 times.
But for some reason, management stays with the same cast of players that can't put pucks in the same zip code as the opponents' goal when the Blues desperately need a big score. These guys couldn't shoot the puck less accurately if you spiked the Gatorade with LSD and sent them on the ice blindfolded.
David Backes and Patrik Berglund missed the net 11 times. Alexander Steen and Alex Pietrangelo missed the net 10 times. David Perron (7) and T.J. Oshie (4) were repeatedly off the mark - and at critical moments.
Good lord God almighty. That's what happens when you have a team made up entirely of helpers.
I'm not going to blame people, because I firmly believe that the effort was there, the desire was there. The ability is what was lacking, and that's what needs to be addressed.
Brian Elliott gave the team a chance to win in every game, and while he could have been better in game four, or maybe could have stopped the shot that chipped off of Roman Polak's stick at the end of the second period, that's not why the Blues lost. They lost because they don't have that one or two guys to wrap it up.
What the Blues need to do in the off-season is a totally different post. After this season, and after this series, it's become apparent that the number one need is one that's been the Blues' number one need for years now: get someone who can score.