It would be one thing if the Kings had gimmicked it up somehow. If the Kings had gotten lucky with a bunch of weird bounces. If the Kings had just killed the Blues with flukey "throw it in your own goal" or "scored on from center ice" tallies.
But that hasn't happened. Unfortunately, the Kings have out-Bluesed the Blues. They have taken away their offensive chances. They have taken away the neutral zone and made it impossible to have puck possession across the line into the offensive zone. They have gotten the better goaltending.
Shit, man, I wish I could hate these guys, but I don't.
Everything we've had thrown at us as Blues fans all year by the angry members of whatever defeated team's fan club if what we're saying about the Kings right now. They're playing tenacious. They are winning all of the battles. They are creating the better chances via turnovers and forechecking. They're getting great, but not otherworldly, goaltending.
The Los Angeles Kings are the St. Louis Blues. And the Blues have yet to face that this year. Lots of fingers are going to be pointed at players, but all that is wrong. The Blues are as good as they have been all year. The Kings are just somehow now better at it than they are.
Here's some finger-pointing and wwhatever:
- Brian Elliott: Everyone knew that the Blues were in good shape going into the playoffs with Jaroslav Halak and Elliott in goal. Then Elliott got hurt. Then Halak got hurt. Elliott came back. Halak did not. The safety net was gone. But so was the motivation. Needless to say, the Elliott fanatics are a lot quieter these days. Why do we, as fans, have to have one or the other? Just know we can root for both for a couple years. Also know each is better individually when they know the other guy is back there to push/back up the other.
- Carlo Coalaicovo: This guy is not nearly as good when he's not paired with Alex Pietrangelo. And vice versa. Thet have some sort of weird sybiotic relationship that works for both of them. That said, Pietranglo better get used to not having it, because his boy Carlo is definitely gone this summer.
- Chris Stewart: Thanks for showing up. You have the benefit of being the one guy in the locker room who cannot smile tonight even though he wants to. Play like this even 40 games a year next season and you're a stud. Do it 60 times and you're an all-star.
- Everyone Else: We can break down how T.J. Oshie worked hard all night or how David Backes battled or how Vladimir Sobotka is a nasty little bastard or how Patrik Berglund looked hurt or whatever, but it comes down to this: On offense, the Blues have three second lines and a fourth line. On defense they have a stud No. 1 blueliner, a stud complimentary offensive blueliner in Kevin Shattenkirk and some solid complimentary guys. Goaltending is down to just one guy, the guy who was not the starter, even if he was solid all year. Against the Sharks they were able to match this up. Against the Kings, they have been unable to do so.
Look, we all still want them to win. Every extra game is an extra night to really care about something as silly as a hockey game we're not actually playing in. But if the Blues get swept, so be it. At least it won't be because they sucked, it'll be because they got outplayed by a better team. It will give the new owners and management some plan for next year. It'll give us something to build on.
But if they win on Sunday, it gives us more. Another chance to play at home. A chance to party for no good reason. To hang with our friends and scream for our favorite hockey players.
Tonight isn't that exciting, but the future is. We get more hockey this round. And next year, our team can be even better in the playoffs. Not many other teams can say either of those things.