May 6, 2012, 6:12 PM EDT
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…
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.
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.
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