ST. LOUIS A season that offered hope came to an abrupt end, but it could mean opportunity.
On Sunday, the St. Louis Blues' best campaign in more than a decade closed with black streamers falling from rafters in Staples Center and the message, "KINGS WIN!" flashing on the scoreboard above center ice. The Los Angeles Kings completed a sweep in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal, leaving the Blues to wonder how a regular season that produced 109 points and 49 victories after a two-year absence from the Stanley Cup playoffs ended with a whimper.
But once disappointment gives way to reflection once the Blues study why they were outscored a combined 15-6 by a team that played well above its No. 8 seed they will see how progress under coach Ken Hitchcock can mean potential for the future. There are lessons to be gained from the last four losses, and they could grow because of them.
"What we really play for is postseason success," said Blues center David Backes, who finish...