The St. Louis Blues missed too many open net chances, failed to solve Jonathan Quick, and lost to the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night 1-0. The Blues lead the series 2 games to 1 and will play again in LA Monday night. Quick made 30 saves for the shutout, the Kings got a goal from Slava Voynov and Brian Elliott stopped 20 of 21 shots in a losing effort.
Many fans, myself included, would say the officiating in Game 3 left a lot to be desired, but to those who want to blame the loss on the refs I say this: the Blues lost Saturday night’s game because of too many missed opportunities. Quick was outstanding, there’s no denying that, but St. Louis had multiple shots at a wide open net and simply couldn’t finish them. The Blues played their typical tight checking defensive game but you have to score goals to win and they couldn’t get the job done.
The St. Louis power-play continued to struggle, going 0-for-5 Saturday night and while the Blues did out-shoot the Kings overall, they had ample opportunities to score goals despite Quick’s excellent play in net. On at least three occasions the Blues had a wide open net to shoot at but couldn’t settle bouncing pucks enough to get shots through. While 30 shots on goal is a fair tally, missing the net completely has been an issue the Blues have faced all season long and it cost them Saturday night with a chance to go up 3-0 in the series.
The Kings responded to being down by 2 games with a very strong 1st period. St. Louis managed to keep their heads above water for those 20 minutes and everyone remarked on how great it was they “weathered the storm” playing tough road hockey. I was less impressed and felt they were lucky to have escaped still tied 0-0. As was mentioned during the broadcast, St. Louis needs to do a better job of funneling pucks to the front of the net and getting bodies in front of Quick to make him uncomfortable. David Perron was one of the few guys who managed to disrupt Quick’s game on a consistent basis Saturday, and with the lack of Blues scoring it’s obvious it will take more than just one guy on the task.
The Kings managed the game’s only goal at 4:56 of the 2nd period by getting guys in front of Elliott, just one of the many questionably officiated plays, when Voynov banged home a loose puck through a scrum in front of the St. Louis net.
The Blues never quit and out-shot the Kings 10-2 in the 3rd period, but between Quick’s fast legs and St. Louis firing the puck high and wide too many times, the Blues weren’t able to get on the board., despite the power-play chances. St. Louis, for the most part, stayed disciplined and out of the penalty box, giving Elliott and the defense the means to keep the game close from start to finish. Finishing though, has been a tough task for the Blues all year long. The Blues have never lost a playoff series in which they led 2 games to none, and they’re by no means out of this one, still up by a game. The pressure, I think, remains on LA to win their home games and St. Louis will have to spend some time working out the kinks in their man-advantage attack. The Kings were very aggressive killing penalties Saturday and haven’t given the Blues much room to work the puck in the offensive zone.
The chemistry of the St. Louis forward lines seems to be clicking so far, but one question many fans are asking is this: is it time to shake up the Blues lineup and get Vladimir Tarasenko on the ice? I’m not sure who you’d rationally sit to get him in there, and with no goals in his last 14 or so games, is he really the answer to the scoring woes? I think the Blues will figure out their shooting problems with or without the change, but indication from the morning skate today for the Blues seems to lean toward the Russian rookie making his playoff debut very soon. You can bet I’ll be staying up late Monday night to find out.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!