If we have learned anything from watching a seven-game series in any sport, it is that a 2-0 lead means very little—especially when your next two games are on the road.
We have also learned that a 3-0 lead in sports is practically a death sentence.
The St. Louis Blues will enter Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night with a 2-0 lead over the defending Stanley Cup champions, and if they can earn another victory, they could turn what was expected to be a very closely contested and long series into a massacre—much like Los Angeles did to the Blues last year.
The first two games of this series could have easily gone either way. The Blues dominated much of Game 1 behind a strong attack of shots on goal, but could not find their way past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick very often in the game.
Eventually, Quick made a mistake and Alex Steen was able to put in a short-handed goal in overtime to give the Blues the victory.
In Game 2, Quick was unbelievable once again, but a third-period goal slipped past him off the skate of Patrik Berglund and he was beaten in the final minute of the game by an absolute snipe by defenseman Barret Jackman.
While both games could have easily gone the Kings' way, the fact of the matter is that the Blues have a 2-0 lead in the series and the Kings' backs are up against the wall.
After two demoralizing losses, could the Blues break the will of the Kings early in Game 3 of the series?
The answer: Absolutely they could.
Look back at last year's series between these two teams. The Kings were able to win Game 1 of the series in St. Louis. The Blues knew they needed to get a big win at home in Game 2 before heading to Los Angeles for the next two games of the series, but the Kings came out and scored four goals in the first period of that game.
That was certainly a crushing blow for the Blues.
After that moment, the Blues never again led in the series, as they could not get past the outstanding goaltending of Jonathan Quick.
Could St. Louis do the same thing to Los Angeles on Saturday night?
The Kings defense has been outstanding so far this series, but the Blues defense has been even better.
If St. Louis is able to come out in the first five or 10 minutes of the game and show the same energy as in in the first two games of the series, Los Angeles will already be slightly demoralized knowing how hard it will be to get the victory. If the Blues are able to come out and strike quickly and take the lead, they could possibly completely demoralize the Kings.
By no means should the Blues expect the Kings to give up. Los Angeles is a great team that plays incredibly hard, but as we saw last year with St. Louis, if you can just demoralize a team a little bit early in a game it could be impossible for it to recover.
The opening minutes on Saturday night will be huge.
If the Blues go out and show once again that they are the superior team, this series could be over much quicker then any of us expected.
If the Kings come out and show they are the superior team, then the Blues will find themselves involved in a long war with their opponents to see who can survive and advance into the second round.