You can’t win if you don’t score.
The old adage can sum up the last three games of the St. Louis Blues’ Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup with the Los Angeles Kings. After winning Games 1 and 2, both by the score of 2-1, the Blues posted five goals in the next three games. The Kings recorded eight goals to storm back and take a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 headed back to Los Angeles Friday night.
Forward Alex Steen has scored three times in the series, including the game-winning goal in Game 1. Behind him, the Blues’ offense has been ice cold in the opening series.
24-year old T.J. Oshie had two of the Blues’ three goals in their 4-3 loss in Game 4, but was also on the ice for all four of the Kings’ goals. He, along with linemates David Perron and Patrik Berglund, were unable to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, leading to multiple odd-man rushes and breakdowns in the neutral zone.
“It was one of my worst 200-foot games,” Oshie said after the game. “The goals are great, but I’d rather not score those and win the game 1-0.”
Oshie, whose two goals are the first playoff goals of his career, has registered just six shots in the series, despite averaging 18:26 on-ice time. That is second-most of any Blues forward.
David Perron, a 21-goal scorer just a season ago, has struggled in this series as well. He has posted just two assists, along with eight shots.
The only man on the roster who has a Stanley Cup ring has been completely left off the score sheet in the best-of-seven series. Andy McDonald, 35, has not registered a point and has just nine shots on goal. This is particularly baffling to the Blues’ brass considering McDonald was far and away the club’s best forward in last year’s post-season, amassing five goals and five assists in nine playoff games.
McDonald has primarily been used on the third line with center Vladimir Sobotka and right-wing Chris Stewart. The line has combined for just four assists and 30 shots in five games.
Stewart’s unproductive play may be the most peculiar aspect of this line. After recording 18 goals in the regular season to lead the Blues, Stewart has one assist (on Jackman’s game-winning goal in Game 2), accompanied by 16 shots. He had just 10 shots through the first four games.
As you can see, the headaches are running rampant across the board. If you are to pinpoint one game that displays the Blues’ offensive struggles, it is the obvious choice: Game 3. In a 1-0 shutout loss, the Blues missed open nets multiple times, including a Steen missed-shot from the slot in the second period and a David Backes whiff in the latter stages of the game.
“You can say we’re a little unlucky,” McDonald said after Game 3. “There were a couple opportunities where the puck was right there and we [didn’t] bury it. That’s the difference a lot of times. We had our fair share if not more than they did.”
Jonathan Quick has been the Blues’ enigma. They find themselves on the wrong end of a series lead for the first time. If the Blues continue to miss opportunities in Game 6, off-season plans may see some of these players solving their struggles with a different team next season.