ST LOUIS, Mo – Late last week, the St. Louis Blues travelled to the left coast to build on their 2-0 series lead. They come back hoping they don’t lose home ice advantage when the series resumes Wednesday night at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. While things started out well, this Blues team is a wounded bunch as they return home to adoring fans, hopeful to regain the great play which has been cause for so much promise this postseason.
Game four began well with the Blues scoring just over a minute into the game. A little over three minutes later, the Blues made it 2-0. Things looked good for the Blues who shortly after taking the lead seemed to gain a level of complacency. That would doom them.
After two glaring breakdowns involving odd-man rushes, the Kings tied it in just less than 10 minutes. It was 2-2 and the Blues were on the ropes. Still, the Blues mustered some fight and took a 3-2 lead just over 5 minutes into the third. Apparently, that woke a giant.
The Kings scored three unanswered goals and as the game wore to its end, Los Angeles pounded St. Louis into submission. The high-flying, five-man system which advanced the play quickly out of their own zone and into a scoring chance was decimated to little or no skating, missed passes and few shots on goal.
The big, strong Kings have the edge now. Shame on the Blues for believing the Kings would roll over after surrendering a two-goal lead. The chance to take the series is still there, but it will be tougher to defeat a re-energized Los Angeles team seeking to build on their momentum.
Elliott remains strong and goalies are entitled to an off game. Let’s hope this game was his “off game”. After all, Jonathan Quick rebounded from allowing two soft goals which put his team in a 2-0 series deficit. He now sits as confident as ever, even if a little overaggressive, a style which contributed to the Blues early good fortune last night.
And with regard to risks, when holding a 2-0 lead, it’s all right to take risks if you are a forward. But steady defenseman and ensuring there are two men back when the attacking team advances is what a team needs to focus on.
Make no mistake, this Blues team is a worthy, talented opponent. It is true they picked a bad time to get off their game by having a savvy club like Los Angeles dictate the way things would be played. St. Louis will likely return to the way they played in the first three games, but imagine what it would have been like to return home with a 3-1 lead and a chance to close out the series at home.
As things sit now, the Blues have a golden opportunity to show what they are made of in game five. This is how teams grow and mature. We have seen this with Elliott, Steen and Schwartz in these four games. All eyes will be on how the team responds. It could be argued this is as exciting to see as winning the game.
Game five is set for Wednesday night at Scottrade Center. The puck drops at 9:00 ET.
Follow Dennis M. Morrell on Twitter at DMMORRELL