Game 3 between the Blues and Kings can be summarized with just two words: wasted opportunities. Maybe two more words: missed wide. Even if you take a few moments trying to remember all of the chances the Blues had, you probably won't be able to remember all of them.
David Backes, Jordan Leopold, Andy McDonald, Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund and numerous others all had high-percentage chances. On some Jonathan Quick was in net. On most he was absent, either sprawled out on the ice or on the wrong side of the action.
Am I prepared to dismiss LA's effort in favor of blaming this loss on the Blues' accuracy issues? Yes. The Blues played an extremely strong game on the road and only walk out of this one with a negative result because they couldn't bury a shot with the net gaping.
The Kings found the net on a scrum where numerous bodies were in the crease. It was one of those shots where it's actually pretty remarkable that the puck got through the traffic in front. If you take the goal they scored and the huge save Brian Elliott made on a Dwight King break, you essentially have a summary of LA's offense in Game 3. Rarely did LA ever look truly threatening. Rarely did they have a glowing opportunity that they fired high or wide.
Then there's the Blues. You'd think someone would hit the net accidentally when presented with an opportunity where the goaltender is out of position and there isn't a defenseman within 15 feet. You'd think the law of averages would assure that at least one puck out of 20 would be within the frame of the goal. That's where the Blues prove you, and any of your math theories, invalid.
Quick made some big saves tonight. No one will argue that point, but let's not give the goaltender all of the credit when a minimum of five St. Louis chances were on empty nets. The goaltender doesn't receive credit when he's not even in view during the highlight.
This loss is a frustrating one because the Blues played the better 60 minutes. They generated more scoring chances and won in a landslide when it came to high-percentage scoring chances. Whether it was nerves, lack of confidence or just plain bad luck, the Blues fired every single chance high and wide. Worse, on some opportunities there was one of the worst images in hockey – the whiff.
The power play has been just as ugly as the missed chances. Actually, you can label the power play as one big missed chance as well. The Blues are now 1-for-13 with the man advantage. Like we all saw during stretches of the regular season, the Blues often sit back with the man advantage, making bad passes while almost offering the puck to the opponent.
Now the Blues have let LA back in this series. The Blues had a golden opportunity to take Game 3 and put a lock on this series. Instead, the Blues might have just woke up a dangerous opponent that has yet to hit its stride in the playoffs.