(HockeyStL) -- It’s certainly not the situation the St. Louis Blues want to be in right now, but they are trying to make the best of it. The Blues are in need of a win in Game 6 to keep their playoff hopes alive and bring the series back to St. Louis. But they won’t be able to play the same game against the Los Angeles Kings that they have in the first five matchups. They will need to find some scoring, or their playoff ride will end sooner than expected.
The Blues like the way they have played in the series. Apart from Game 4, the Blues have competed with, and often times have outplayed the Kings. Yet, they trail in the series 3-2, and it’s not a mystery as to why.
The Blues’ top players have, for the most part, been invisible in the series, at least as far as the score sheet is concerned. Eight of the Blues’ forwards have yet to score in the series, and Alex Steen, who has three goals in the series, is the only Blues’ forward with more than two tallies. T.J. Oshie and Steen are the only Blues players with multiple goals. It’s certainly not hard to see why the Blues have struggled to win close games.
Chris Stewart, Andy McDonald, and David Perron are missing in action this series. They have just three points combined, and are contributing little to the team offensively. McDonald did not have a great regular season for the Blues, but Stewart and Perron were two of the Blues’ top three goal scorers in 2013. Patrik Berglund was the other, and except for his Game 2 goal, he has been silent offensively as well. Whether it has been a case of squandering good opportunities because of misfired pucks, or just a matter of being unable to solve Quick, the Blues are not in good form offensively.
The Blues are 14th out of 16 playoff teams when it comes to goals scored. They are averaging less than two goals per game, and have struggled greatly to score. The Kings are not much better than the Blues, but the difference is that the Kings are finding ways to win, and it is usually their top forwards that score the timely goals. The Blues have scored more than two goals in just one of their first five games. That trend will have to change if the Blues want to force a Game 7.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock is not overly concerned with the scoring. He sees that it is lacking, but feels that the personnel are present, just not being given enough opportunity to convert.
“Do we need more scoring from more people? Yes, we need that but I think we need more second and third opportunities to score, said Hitchcock before Game 6. “That is the difference with us.”
“Looking back on the first five games, if we could get more second and third opportunities and fight for space a little but harder, some of those guys might get the opportunities they want.”
The Blues currently have 155 shots on goal in the series, yet have only found the back of the net on nine of them. Scoring is, in large part, the reason the Blues are trailing in the series. Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick has been guilty of giving up some big rebounds, but the Blues have not been in the position to capitalize on them.
“I know we have a couple of guys that can finish but we have to get in and stay in a position to score more often,” said Hitchcock. If we are guilty of anything it is being one-and-done too many times.”
Looking at the roster, the Blues have guys that can score, but for some reason they have struggled in the postseason. While the King’s defense has been good, the Blues have missed a lot of chances.
It goes without saying, but games aren’t won unless goals are scored. The Blues are not scoring and as a result, they are not winning. If the Blues can maintain the play that, for the most part, they have displayed in the series and start converting on their opportunities, they will be hard to beat.
As the Blues search for their scoring touch, they realize that Game 6 could be their last. Hitchcock described his team’s mood as confident, and aware of the task at hand. The Kings have won nine consecutive games at home, but the Blues, who have not won at the Staples Center since March 17, 2011, feel they have what it takes to stay alive. But it won’t take long for that confidence to be lost if the Blues don’t start finishing.