If you've followed the first five games of the St. Louis Blues-Los Angeles Kings series, you're aware that several noteworthy players on the St. Louis roster have yet to show up for the playoffs. Key players, ones that are major components to the team's offense, have yet to make an impression in the postseason.
You can pin the Blues' offensive woes on plenty of players. You could blame maybe 15 players for their inability to hit the net when the goaltender is down on the ice. There's lots of blame that can be spread across the roster. However, two players stick out for their inability to contribute - Andy McDonald and Chris Stewart.
Stewart's absence in the playoffs is especially troubling considering he led the Blues with 18 goals and 36 points during the regular season. For the most part, he looked like the offensive weapon the Blues acquired back in 2010-11. The playoffs started and Stewart went missing.
In five games, Stewart has one assist and 16 shots. He's a +1. What the stats won't say is that Stewart has barely been a factor this series. He's expected to throw his weight around, disrupt the opposition and generate chances. Instead, he's mostly on the outside looking in, waiting for the play to develop around him instead of trying to create the play himself. Stewart looks like the 2011-12 version that struggled through the regular season, not the 2013 version where he was hungry and determined.
The Blues need more out of their top offensive threat from the regular season.
Andy McDonald looks like he's aged five or 10 years in the past few weeks. The man that contributed 21 points in 37 games during the regular season looks like a completely different player against the Kings. He looks slower, weaker and struggles to maintain possession when bringing the puck into LA's zone.
At 35, McDonald is the older player currently in the lineup (Langenbrunner and Nichol are injured). The Blues expect McDonald to lead by example. He needs to play like he's been there before. He needs to play like the Stanley Cup champ that he is.
Both Stewart and McDonald are in the final year of their current contracts. McDonald is set to be an unrestricted free agent and Stewart is set to be a restricted free agent. Both men could have used the playoffs as a chance to prove why they deserve more years and more money. For McDonald, it was already unlikely any team would pay him a salary even close to his current $4.7 million a year. Now that he's disappeared in the playoffs, McDonald's price keeps dropping. For Stewart, he's trying to prove he deserves a long-term contract. Based on his play during the regular season, you could make a strong case that he deserves a raise. Based on the playoffs, you have to wonder if Stewart's lack of motivation will continue to be an issue.
There will be plenty of time to talk contracts over the summer, but for now the Blues need McDonald and Stewart to show up or they'll be tossed out of the playoffs in the first round.