[Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports]

St. Louis Blues Learn Difference Between Cup Favorite And Defending Champion

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There’s no way to candy coat what happened in Chicago this afternoon. The St. Louis Blues were manhandled by the Chicago Blackhawks, and the gap between early-season Stanley Cup favorite and defending Stanley Cup champion was readily apparent in the third period of Game 6.

A Game 6 that the Blues needed to win to stay alive in the postseason, though you might not have known it as the wheels came off one by one in the closing frame—during the Championship rounds, if you will. In the UFC, that’s what they call the fourth and fifth rounds. You see, any fighter can hit the gym and get into decent enough shape to trade punches for 15 minutes.

It takes a special degree of dedication, talent and will to get through an extra 10 minutes though, and the Blues didn’t have what it took to take the belt from the champ. Through Games 1 and 2, it looked like St. Louis was going to be able to hang. Then the ‘Hawks hit a switch, and their all-world players made the difference.

Jonathan Toews scored three game-winning goals for Chicago. Patrick Kane had the other winner.

There were so many gaps and differences in this series that it’s almost dizzying. It’s tempting to point at Ryan Miller and blame him. Maybe you want to lean on Ken Hitchcock a bit and wonder where his adjustments were. Perhaps the power play is the scapegoat this time around.

There’s too much blame to go around at this point, with the dust still in the air and the likes of David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen all heading back to St. Louis to clean out their lockers instead of participating in a Game 7 at home. Games 3 through 6, the ‘Hawks slowly but surely pulled away.

[Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports]

The two teams barely looked like they belonged in the same league by the end of the series, let alone competing for the same trophy. That’s the lesson that the Blues need to take away from this embarrassing showing above all. Maybe Miller comes back, or maybe he’s allowed to leave. Perhaps Hitchcock is relieved of his duties, but more than anything, St. Louis saw firsthand what it takes to be a champion in the NHL.

It takes timely goal scoring, offense from the blue line, clutch saves from a steady goalie and a power play that can produce. The Blues didn’t have any of these things against the ‘Hawks, and they’re lucky that the history books read lost 4-2 instead of lost 4-0.

 

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Tags: NHL St. Louis Blues

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