I hate to sound pessimistic about the home team, but we actually won more games this year in the playoffs then I thought we would. As soon as I looked at the standings, and saw were the blues stood, my heart sank. We just didn’t have enough wins to pass up the Vancouver Canucks in the standings, so it was up to the Blues to take on the heavy task of the L.A. Kings, once again.
I know the Blues would have had a better chance of winning a series against the champion, Chicago Blackhawks, then the L.A. Kings. Before the Kings swept Saint Louis in the regular season, every true Blues fan with hatred for the Kings can tell you how terrible the playoff loss in the 11/12 season was. And in the 11/12 regular season, Blues only won one game against L.A. That makes the Blues 0 for the last 8 against this team. The well-deserved, new rivalry in the NHL was born.
It seems like there is nothing the blues can do to get past the Kings. In the regular season they proved that they can beat some of the best teams in the NHL. However, there is just something about LA that the Blues just hit a brick wall. What is it about the L.A. Kings that the Blues are so allergic too?
The Blues would even blow a 3 goal lead on March 5th 2013 at the staples center. I could not believe it, up by 3, I though the Blues would finally have a win over the Kings. Then came the third period and everything just fell apart.
The Kings will swarm the net like wasps, they can hold on to the lead were the Blues cannot. Players were just worn out in the third, and it showed. Instead of nailing players to the boards at an attempt to cross the blue line, like Ryan Reaves is so good at, he would now let them in the zone to set up. Across the board blues players would stop putting the check on and lazily use the stick with one hand in an attempt to knock the puck loose of King Possession. It never works against this team, they can move the puck far too fast for anything to work other than a check to force the dump-in.
The pain continued during the playoffs. With our new weapon Jay Bouwmeester, I though perhaps this time will be different. Bringing the series back to Scottrade for game 5, I knew we needed this one or it would be the end of the run. Games 3, 4, and 6 were a given loss considering the Kings outstanding home record. We needed to win game 5 and come back to Scottrade for game 7 to have any kind of hope.
I felt Saint Louis deserved to win game 5, with the amazing goal Alex Pietrangelo got late in the third with Brian Elliott on the bench, but the hockey god did not agree. Taking it in to overtime I was quite disappointed that hitch did not play the CRP line. Sometimes it looks like Ryan Reaves is the only guy trying to win this thing. If the CRP line got to play in OT maybe it would have been a different result?
Reaves really upped his game in the playoffs with one hit after another, but this was not the only factor that helped us win games 1 and 2. In respect for Ryan Reaves, he really played like he wanted to win out there. Looking at some of the guys that got past Johnathan Quick, some unlikely names like Barret Jackman, and Roman Polak appear.
Although Quick is classified as a hybrid, he is a much better butterfly and certainly not a stand-up. If you want to get past Jonathan Quick, you got to get the puck up. Barret Jackman, Roman Polak, and Alex Pietrangelo all these d-men getting key goals in the playoffs proves you don’t have to make it fancy, just shoot for the net and eventually you will get past Quick. This is where the CPR line would have been perfect. Get the heavy hitters in there to win the battle against the boards after a dump in, and work on feeding it to a defenseman. From the blue line lay it on quick all game long, use Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester for what they do best. All while maintaining the Blues current “Heavy” style, and with three men high. However Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter, and Ryan Reaves can’t do it alone, and while playing a team as big as L.A. they certainly had their hands full.
If the Blues can just get past the Kings, then they can beat any team, and win any series in the NHL. We have the tools to succeed, were just not utilizing them properly. Although it is quite clear the blues are allergic to the Kings it seems no one else is. Despite the poor season, the Edmonton Oilers had no problem winning against the Kings this year. This seems as evidence we are just doing something wrong when it comes to taking on the LA kings. The debate is endless but whatever it is, it’s our biggest obstacle in bringing Lord Stanley to Saint Louis.