Great goaltending. Stifling defense. Total commitment from all four forward lines and all three defensive pairings. Timely goalscoring. A few lucky bounces.
That has been the story of how the St. Louis Blues put together such a great season.
It's also the story of how they were beaten handily by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the playoffs.
There are a lot of points we could talk about today, but it really isn't about today, is it? The story of the Blues is more than who played well in Game 4 and who didn't. It's actually about more than who played well all series and who didn't.
The story is, of course, about how the Blues transformed from a non-playoff team and a squad that was expected by many to be a Western Conference bubble team this year to a team that had a shot at the Western Conference finals. This was supposed to be a team that had lots of ups and downs and was still transitioning into whatever they will become in the next few years. At the start of the season, at 6-7-0, the script was being followed.
And then, of course, they showed everyone what could be. That the Blues are a strong team when they play a strong team concept game. That they have the right management in place in Doug Armstrong and the right coach in place in Ken Hitchcock. Much of the foundation is set - the team is a young core group and they all learned a lot of important lessons about how to win in the regular season and in the playoffs. They also learned how quickly it can be taken away.
The Blues will continue on their path, then. They have a new ownership group to get into the building and get them to cough up some dollars for this summer's free agency period. They have to get the next wave of talented youngsters like Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko prepared to join the team. They have to continue to build, of course.
At the start of the season, a second round playoff appearance seemed like a nice goal. Obviously, now it feels like the goal should be set even higher. Which it will be.
Today is not a great day to be a Blues fan. But it's definitely a great time to be a Blues fan.