ST. LOUIS – Tyler Toffoli led the Kings in goals in the regular season with 31. He managed just one assist in five games in a first round loss to the Sharks, with a minus-five rating.
Filip Forsberg had a team-leading 33 goals and 64 points for Nashville in the regular season, but found the net just once against San Jose in the second round in seven games, with a minus-nine.
No one on the Blues had more goals (40) or points (74) than Vladimir Tarasenko headed into the playoffs. But so far, the 24-year-old doesn’t have a single point in five games while going up against San Jose in the Western Conference Final, with a minus-four rating.
Add it up, and the Sharks have held the three biggest goal scorers of their playoff opponents to one goal, one assist and a combined minus-18 in 17 games.
Tarasenko, of course, is the one in focus now. After Game 5, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock spoke about trying to get the talented forward going.
"We have no choice, we've got to bring it back for Game 7, that's the goal. So he's just part of the mix,” Hitchcock said.
“He's struggled this series. He's struggled offensively, he hasn't gotten the looks offensively that he normally gets. But he's one shift away from breaking it open. It's like any other goal scorer, when they don't score, there's a frustration level that comes in, and it's my job to make sure and correct the frustration level if I can."
St. Louis captain David Backes doesn't see effort as the problem for Tarasenko, who is reportedly fully healthy, Hitchcock told reporters on Tuesday.
"Just takes a little spark and all of a sudden he’s right where he needs to be and scoring big goals for us," Backes said. "But he’s trying his butt off. We’re all trying our butts off."
The Blues have been better on the road throughout the playoffs, posting a 6-3 record as opposed to 4-6 at Scottrade Center. That includes Game 4 at SAP Center, when they thoroughly outplayed San Jose in a 6-3 win.
They’re 2-0 in elimination games this postseason, winning a pair of Game 7s against Chicago and Dallas.
“We’re going to have to invest and come together the way that we have when we’ve had elimination games, and we’re responded well to that sort of situation,” Backes said. “That’s what we need coming up in Game 6.”