If you look beyond the St. Louis Blues spending too much time trying to exact revenge on Nazem Kadri, they were completely outplayed by the Colorado Avalanche in Game 4. It was another dominating display by the top team in the Western Conference during their 6-3 win Monday night to take a 3-1 series lead.
“We got out-skated for most of the game 5-on-5. It’s pretty simple,” said Blues head coach Berube. “I don’t know why. We got out-skated. They out-skated us. Got to every loose puck. Lost a lot of puck battles.”
The stats agree with what Berube’s eyes told him. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Avalanche were better at 5-on-5 in unblocked shot attempts (69.7% to 30.3%), scoring chances for (30 to 9), high-danger chances (9 to 3), and expected goals for percentage (68.52% to 31.48%).
Now the Blues travel back to Colorado — where they won Game 2 — trying to save their season. If they’re to advance, that means they are done losing to an Avalanche team that is looking to move on the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2002.
It’s an uphill climb, one that the Blues have only accomplished twice in their history — 1991 vs. Detroit and 1999 vs. Phoenix. NHL teams with 3-1 leads in best-of-seven series are 296-31 (.905) all-time.
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“We’ve got to play better. We can,” Berube said. “We went in there and won Game 2, so we’re capable of doing it. The team’s capable of doing it and it’s just a matter of going out and executing and doing it. We’ve got to skate. We didn’t skate [in Game 4]. We weren’t heavy enough, we didn’t win enough 50/50 battles. That’s got to be a must. You’ve got to skate and you’ve got to win 50/50 battles and we need a lot more guys doing it. A lot more.”
Saying you want to play better and executing that plan is one thing. Saying you want to play better and executing it against a Stanley Cup contender in the Avalanche while facing a 3-1 series deficit is an entirely different challenge.
It’s the old cliche now for the Blues — one game at a time. They threw away an opportunity in Game 4 and now have to win out or else their offseason will begin earlier than desired.
“We had some pushes at times [in Game 4], did some good things, but [we were] not nearly consistent enough,” said Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly. “It’s unfortunate, but we get the next game. That’s our focus. We have to leave it all out there now – it’s do or die.”
COLORADO AVALANCHE v. ST. LOUIS BLUES (COL leads 3-1)
Game 1 – Avalanche 3, Blues 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Blues 4, Avalanche 1
Game 3 – Avalanche 5, Blues 2
Game 4 – Avalanche 6, Blues 3
Game 5 – May 25: Blues at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 6 – May 27: Avalanche at Blues, 8 p.m. ET (TNT, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 7 – May 29: Blues at Avalanche, TBD
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.