There's no doubt in the St. Louis Blues' minds who's going to win the Stanley Cup. Again.
"We ran into the champs, and it looks like they're heading in the right direction," coach Joel Quenneville said after the Detroit Red Wings finished off his team in six games with a 6-1 rout Tuesday night.The Red Wings advanced to the Western Conference finals against Dallas starting Sunday. The Eastern Conference finals begin Saturday with Buffalo at Washington.
"I'd be surprised if this team doesn't win the Cup," center Craig Conroy said of the Red Wings. "They've got everything. They've got probably the best four lines in hockey right now, they played well and their goaltender was hot. There was nothing we could do about it."
The Blues thought they had new life after beating the Red Wings 3-1 on the road in Game 5. Then the Red Wings buried them Tuesday night, silencing a sellout crowd of 20,591 and ending one of St. Louis' most promising seasons in recent memory.
Martin Lapointe scored twice in the second period, Steve Yzerman had a goal and three assists and the defending Stanley Cup champions scored three times on a previously anemic power play. That put the Red Wings one series away from a third appearance in four years in the finals.
"We had the killer instinct," Lapointe said.
The Red Wings won't have home-ice advantage against Dallas, which was No. 1 overall in the regular season. Not that it might mean much after what happened in the Blues series or across the NHL in the post-season.
Three of Detroit's four victories came on the road, and both of the Blues' victories came at Joe Louis Arena. In the playoffs, road teams are 33-33. The Blues hadn't lost three in a row at home since Dec. 13-19, 1996.
Detroit has eliminated the Blues in the playoffs three straight seasons. The Red Wings also beat the Blues in six games in the first round of the playoffs last year, and in seven games in the second round two years ago.