(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is San Jose Sharks blogger "Megalodon" of Battle of California, fondly recalling the St. Louis Blues. Again, this was not written by us ... OK, by all of us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
By "Megalodon" of Battle of California
Wow. That was fast.
Friends, we are gathered here today along the charmingly muddy banks of the Mississippi River, beneath the magnificent arch (known as the "Gateway to the Western Conference semi-finals") to honor our fallen comrades, the 2011-2012 St. Louis Blues.
I know many of you have come from out of town (Red Wings fans, Blackhawks fans, and Sharks fans like myself, none of us with anything more important to do right now) so you might not be familiar with the unique atmosphere and local culture of St. Louis. First, I want to assure you that the smell you are all undoubtedly noticing is not the putrid rotting corpse of the Blues -- that's just how the air always smells this close to the Mississippi.
Sorry about that. Not much we can do.
Second, it's very important that while you are here you do NOT eat any "St. Louis-style pizza." Locals will attempt to trick you into trying it, telling you that the foul white gunk that covers it is something called "Provel processed cheese," but don't believe them. St. Louis citizens are notorious liars and tricksters, after all. This "Provel" is actually a mixture of industrial chemical run-off and "water" from the Mississippi River -- and is likely to kill unsuspecting outsiders.
Ladies and gentlemen, I know you are all as shocked as I am that the mighty Blues have been beaten so badly, so brutally, and so completely by the Kings.
How could this happen?
How could a team with superstar talent the likes of Andy McDonald ...
... and David Perron
and Brian Elliott …
… possibly lose?
This can't be happening. This ragtag bunch of misfits - SWEPT out of the playoffs? This charming and well-coached band of grizzled veterans and spunky young kids actually LOST? I refuse to believe it.
Oh wait -- this is real life? Not a movie? Oh. Oh I guess it makes sense then.
In real life, teams made up of ragtag misfits lose all the time. It doesn't matter how many players you have with funny initials like "B.J." or Ninja Turtle names like "Pietrangelo" - you actually need a whole bunch of GOOD players if you want to win.
The Blues put together an impressive regular season with this team but in the playoffs they were revealed for what they really have been all along: a bunch of sloppy greenhorns and washed-up old fools.
The most remarkable thing about the Blues' success this season, of course, is that they accomplished so much with their bizarre goalie tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. And while Halak had put in some solid performances in previous seasons, one look at Brian Elliott's earlier career statistics proves that he unambiguously sucks. But, incredibly, the Blues turned him into an all-star!
Halak-Elliott was such a dominant goaltending duo that St. Louis fans actually felt confident enough to create and vote in a poll like this:
Do you smell that? That awful stink?
That's the Mississippi again.
But METAPHORICALLY, it's the smell of hubris.
The ability of the Blues to bounce back and forth between Halak and Elliott blinded the team to the remarkable madness inherent in trying to win critical games with Brian Elliott as your starting goalie. My poor Sharks had too many problems of their own to take advantage of the Blues, but as soon as St. Louis faced the Kings -- a good team with better players than the Blues at every single position -- their fate was sealed. The Blues were doomed.
In Game 1 of the Kings-Blues series, Los Angeles beat St. Louis at their own game and emerged victorious in a tight defensive match where mistakes were punished. Then in Game 2 ... jeez. I don't know. The team was completely unable to adjust to life without Alex Pietrangelo, and the Blues turned into the Blues Jackets.
The Kings got an early lead and then the Blues' inexperienced roster just imploded. Brian Elliott started playing like Brian Elliott always has every season except for this one. The Kings pushed the Blues around physically and the St. Louis players did nothing except piss their pants up and down the ice (it was ankle-deep, by the end of the game). The Kings opened the Roman Polak door, found a dude who kind of sucks at hockey, bounced the puck off of his face and then scored another goal. The refs tried their hardest to give the Blues a chance to make a game of it, but St. Louis finished the night ZERO for nine on the power play.
Ken Hitchcock totally failed to get his team back on track, and the Blues' season was basically over at the end of the first period of game two.
But then in Game 3 Pietrangelo came back! The Blues rallied around their young star and ... lost again. And then again. Oh drat.
Fans are looking for a scapegoat, because that's what fans do. A fair number are calling for the team to trade defenseman Barret Jackman, either because he sucks or because he's the one who hurt Jaroslav Halak.
I think trading Barret Jackman would be great ... for Barret Jackman. He'd have a chance to join the long line of people who have achieved success after escaping the dangerous back alleys of St. Louis. Jackman could be included in the same list as Chris Pronger, Brett Hull, Jon Hamm, and Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey (the last two of those guys, of course, left dreary St. Louis for sunny California, the land where dreams come true).
In the end, this team's miserable failure shouldn't really surprise anyone. It's perfectly in keeping with the grand traditions of the city they represent. The g̶r̶e̶a̶t̶ city of St. Louis was named after the French King Louis VIII, and the two things you need to know about him are 1) he persecuted Jews and 2) he failed miserably at all his crusades. It's clear that the Blues have totally embraced that second distinctive feature of King Louis VIII - i.e., they sucked and failed.
(As for further reasons to hate the Blues, I really can't comment anymore than I already have.)
So here we are. The Blues are done. Their amazing season ends with a plop. Once more the team has lived up to the second-rate nature of their city, bowing out and letting REAL cities, like New Jersey and Phoenix, take center stage. The Blues will return in shame to their homes in flyover country (which is really an inaccurate term, as pilots avoid flying directly over St. Louis because of the smell) and hockey will go on without them, the way it always has before.
Oh man, look at all the St. Louis fans in the audience here, crying into their cheap swill-beer. I'm sorry folks. Maybe I should end with a joke, to help you guys feel better?
How about this:
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because Brian Elliott was in charge of stopping it.
Hahahaha, that's a good one.
I hope you St. Louis fans can get through your depression quickly. It shouldn't be that hard -- you do have 45 years of practice, after all.
Just try to relax, forget your troubles, and enjoy your lives in the great state of Misery.
You've earned it.
(FYI: We know there are going to be some Red Wings fans in the readership wondering why a Detroit blogger didn't get a crack at the Blues after their Eulogy. We book these in advance of the playoffs, and the Sharks drew the Blues. Rest assured, a Red Wings blog is sharpening the knives for the Predators...)