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Five reasons Blues were eliminated from playoffs

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are the epitome of what a regular-season team should be.

They've surpassed 100 points three of the past four seasons (they didn't get there in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season), and have finished first or second in their division four straight seasons.

But another disappointment in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this time a six-game loss to the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round, could make for an interesting offseason.

Here are five reasons the Blues were eliminated:

1. Lack of goal scoring -- For the third straight postseason the Blues could not find the net at the opportune times in the series.

St. Louis scored 14 goals for the second straight postseason (an average of 2.33 goals per game), and they have 38 goals in their past 18 playoff games (2.11 goals per game).

Against the Wild, the Blues scored 10 goals in two victories and four in four losses.

After defeating the Wild 6-1 in Game 4, the Blues one goal in Game 5 and one goal in Game 6.

2. Outplayed by opposing goalie -- Not that Jake Allen was poor in the series for the Blues, but he was outplayed by the Wild's Devan Dubnyk.

It's a repeat of playoff series past for the Blues, who saw their goaltending outplayed by Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2013 and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks last year.

Although Allen, who was pulled in Game 6 after allowing two goals on 13 shots, finished with a lower goals-against average (2.20) than Dubnyk's 2.32 GAA, Dubnyk raised his game when it mattered most.

After allowing six goals on 17 shots in the Wild's Game 4 loss, he stopped 66 of 68 shots in Games 5 and 6 when the series was tied 2-2 and was the difference-maker.

Allen allowed six goals on the final 32 shots he faced in Games 5 and 6.

T.J. Oshie
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 16 | +/-: -3
3. Not enough from core players -- Aside from Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored six goals, David Backes (one), T.J. Oshie (one), Alexander Steen (one), Paul Stastny (one) and Jaden Schwartz (one) combined for five goals in the six games.

Kevin Shattenkirk (eight points) and Tarasenko (seven) led the Blues for the second straight postseason in points. But Steen (four), Schwartz (three), Backes (two), Oshie (two) and Stastny (one) combined for 12 points.

Minnesota got 17 points from its top line of Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund.

When the Blues needed their big guns to get the job done, they again failed to execute when games and the series were on the line.

4. Failure to elevate play in the postseason -- While the Blues have been beasts in the regular season the past four seasons, they've gone cold in the playoffs. And all four early exits came in series where the Blues had home-ice advantage.

They have finished in the top six in the League standings the past four seasons but have one playoff series win to show for it, a five-game defeat of the San Jose Sharks in the first round in 2012.

5. Ken Hitchcock's inability to get the most from the players -- In his tenure as coach, Ken Hitchcock has done a wonderful job at resurrecting the Blues. While the Blues have dominated in the regular season, they have failed to reach anything close to that level in the postseason.

Hitchcock made a bold move by going with Allen, a rookie, in goal instead of veteran Brian Elliott. A penchant for changing forward line and defensive combinations never allowed the players to get in sync during the series against the Wild when things weren't going well.

Hitchcock is 175-79-27 in the regular season in St. Louis (a .671 winning percentage), but 10-17 in the playoffs (.370 winning percentage).

Hitchcock's contract is set to expire, and with another playoff failure there are questions of whether he will be brought back.

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