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And then there were seven: Blues swept out of Western Conference semifinal

May 6, 2012, 6:12 PM EDT

Elliott

The Los Angeles Kings defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal, sweeping the series 4-0. The Kings have now ousted the No. 1 (Vancouver) and No. 2 (St. Louis) seeds out of the playoffs with a combined 8-1 record.

As for the Blues…

What happened?

The St. Louis power play failed at the most inopportune time. The Blues went 0-for-17 in the series after going 6-for-18 against the Sharks in Round 1 and allowed LA to score twice while shorthanded.

All told, the Blues went 0-for-31 on the PP against the Kings this year.

Brian Elliott was also badly outplayed by Jonathan Quick in goal — the St. Louis ‘tender was shaky over the final three games of the series, allowing nine goals on 62 shots (an .822 save percentage) and letting in several questionable goals in Game 3.

Who takes the blame?

Elliott will take some heat, though the sweep can hardly be pinned on him. The Blues showed a real lack of discipline throughout the series, mostly notably in the do-or-die Game 4 (Lou Korac of NHL.com notes the Blues took five offensive zone penalties in the 3-1 loss.) The power play dried up — as mentioned above — but the offense wasn’t much better at regular strength. St. Louis only scored six goals the entire series and got zero points from TJ Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Alex Steen.

What will they do about it?

Even though it ended badly, this was a good year for the Blues. They made the playoffs for the first time in three years and finished with 109 points, their most since 1999-2000. So don’t expect many significant changes to the group.

That said, GM Doug Armstrong has plenty of decisions to make this summer. Free agents include Oshie (RFA), David Perron (RFA), Chris Stewart (RFA), Barret Jackman (UFA), Jason Arnott (UFA) and Jamie Langenbrunner (UFA) — it’ll also be curious to see if Armstrong and head coach Ken Hitchcock continue with the goalie tandem of Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, or attempt to move one. Neither goalie has no-trade/movement clause.

More

And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

And then there were 10: Bruins run out of Game 7 magic

And then there were 9: Senators out, but future’s bright

And then there were 8: Panthers go out swinging

  1. highlander24 - May 6, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    KINGS!!!!!!!!

  2. emperorzero - May 6, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    It’s disappointing that the Blues got swept, but the Kings are on a roll right now and Quick has been stellar.

  3. danphipps01 - May 6, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Bright notes for St. Louis to take away from this:
    – They have a hard-hitting, skilled and defensively brilliant young team. They may need some offensive improvement, but they have a fantastic core going forward. There’s a lot of fuel left in their tank yet.
    – Chris Stewart worked like hell when he got the call, especially in game three. For a guy whose commitment has been questioned a lot, he really showed a lot of heart when the time came. If that’s indicative of a change of attitude overall, he’ll be a great player for them going forward.

    Less-bright notes:
    – Discipline. Andy McDonald was a problem for them repeatedly throughout the series and he seemed to have practically no sense of self-control worth mentioning. You just can’t take penalties whenever you feel a little pissed off, and though there were several guys who seemed to be struggling to control their tempers, he was in the box seemingly the most.
    – Scoring. Yes, I know, it’s LA. LA, which even Vancouver could barely manage to dent. I get that. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, you need reliable finishers, and while McDonald in particular was extremely effective against San Jose, everyone came up short against Los Angeles.
    – Is it just me, or did LA seem to win a LOT more key faceoffs than St. Louis did? Might want to look into options for improvement at centre. I mean, Backes and Oshie are great, but they’re not quite “elite,” I guess. An undisputed #1C, and in particular one who can notch thirty-plus goals a season, would do a lot of good for this team.

    • mickeyb21 - May 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      I agree with most of what you said. I don’t look as badly upon McDonald as you did, I only remember one stupid penalty by him compared to at least three for Nichol, Perron, and Stewart. Those one’s stood out clearer in my mind.

      I also think Stewart played these last couple games well enough to earn a 1 or 2 year deal. Kind of like Oshie’s show up or leave contract this year. I also see Oshie and Perron signing again. Jackman disappointed me a lot during this series and a little bit during the shark’s series. Interested to see if he returns. Carlo is gone, couldn’t even play him for Game 4. Don’t know if Arnott is back, too upset about these last few healthy scratches. Langs I think is back, another 1 year deal.

      Hopefully the thirty goal scorers are those that missed so much time with concussions. I think Perron can definately do it and McDonald. I also see Berglund stepping up. Hope Tarasenko comes over, that will definately boost offense.

      Don’t see any centers available through free agency this year. Unless there is a huge trade, I don’t see the 1C improving all that much. I hope faceoffs are something that Backes and Berglund spend a lot of time on this summer. Sobotka and Nichol did fairly well.

      Overall, a great step from last season. Need everyone in better shape for next year. I see them doing even better in the future.

      • danphipps01 - May 6, 2012 at 7:54 PM

        Fair enough regarding the penalties. Nichol’s very lucky Stoll ended up in the box too, because there’s no way the Kings wouldn’t have scored once in four minutes of power play time if they had got it.

        You’ve got a point regarding injuries hampering goal production for sure, but let’s not forget that all their top six scorers were healthy in this series and the firepower still came up short of the mark. Even considering who they came up short against, I think they should look at adding a little more. Hopefully, as you said, Tarasenko can be a difference-maker there. It’ll definitely give them more scoring depth l

        That having been said, the centre quality issue is a bit harder to deal with. Definitely, the right thing to do is drill their top guys (Oshie too, I would assume) on faceoffs, but that still leaves them with Backes as a top centre, and while he’s obviously an excellent player and a Selke candidate for many good reasons, he’s just not going to win many draws against opponents who can put a true top-tier centre in the circle against him.

      • mickeyb21 - May 6, 2012 at 11:23 PM

        True, but that leads to the same issues that there just are not many high quality centers out there. The only name I have heard out there is Staal and he is pretty much just another Backes. There aren’t many people on the team that I am willing to trade away to aquire that talent either. Not really sure what is out there to help.

        Thought at the end of last year that the Blues needed better face-off players and leadership. They brought in Nichol which helped a little with the face-offs (actually finished above 50% for the season) and Langs and Arnott helped with leadership. This summer the Blues need defensive depth, mainly a real partner for Pietrangelo, and players that can score. Also need larger guys out there. The Kings wingers and D just pushed the Blues wingers and D around. Blues only have around 5 big guys.

      • blomfeld - May 6, 2012 at 11:39 PM

        danphipps & mickeyb …

        An intelligent exchange between the both of you no doubt, however you are both in extreme denial ! The fact of the matter is that we LA Kings absolutely “smashed” the Saint Louis Blues in every conceivable way, just as we laid “complete and utter” waste to the Canucks ! This talk about “face-offs won” and “sore knees” are nothing more than a lame attempt to deny that which is staring you straight in the face … the LA Kings are a “juggernaut” which is not only unbeatable, but completely irresistible ! :)

        GO KINGS GO !

  4. oside760 - May 6, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    the kings are straight up doing work. dont even step. cause you’ll get knocked out. GO KINGS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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