The St. Louis Blues find themselves one game away from their summer vacation.
Trailing the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 entering game four of a Western Conference semi-final, the Blues needed to win last Thursday night to get back in the series. Unfortunately, they could not pull it off. Although they started with more speed and aggression than in game two, they couldn’t stop the Kings’ offense, which has been on fire as of late. The Kings had goals by Dwight King and Drew Doughty along with a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist, and a fight) by Mike Richards. Jonathan Quick also had a solid game in net for the Kings. However, he received a lot of help from his defense. Quick did a great job of stopping the initial shot, but he left a number of rebounds. The Kings’ defense was strong and did a great job of boxing out the Blues forwards so they couldn’t put in the rebound.
The Blues still had some positives in game three. Alex Pietrangelo returned to the ice after getting injured in game one and sitting out game two. He played a strong game, showing no signs of injury. Christ Stewart got his first and second goals of the 2012 playoffs, but those were the only two goals the Blues could score and not enough for a win.
If the Blues expect to win in game four, the veteran players will need to play more like veterans and stay out of the box. Alex Steen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Matt D’Agostini and Andy McDonald all took retaliation penalties for the Blues.
Only three times in NHL history has a team come back from trailing three games in a series. Back in 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final. The second occurrence was in 1975 when the New Jersey Islanders won over the Pittsburgh Penguins in one of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Most recently, the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Boston Bruins in an Eastern Conference semi-final in 2010.
Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself. The Blues have been down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series nine times in the franchise’s history, including this one. They are 0-8, and in seven of those series they were swept in four games. But there is a little bit of hope for the Blues. The Kings have never beaten the Blues four times in a row. The Blues also had seven regular season win streaks of four games or more. So it’s possible for the club to come back. They need to take it one game at a time, one period at a time for that matter.
If they can win the little battles during each period, stay out of the penalty box, and find the defensive strength that got them to the top of the league and into the playoffs, they will have recovered the foundation necessary to bring the series back to St. Louis.