The St. Louis Blues realized their dream as a team and fulfilled the dreams of so many fans. They are the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions!
The St. Louis Blues journey through the 2018-19 season will go down as the stuff of legends. If you wrote a script for a Hollywood movie that had every detail that happened in the Blues season, it would have been thrown in the trash because it would have been too unbelievable.
The Blues got off to one of their worst starts in franchise history. They fired their coach just a couple months into the season, a coach that supplanted a sure-fire hall of famer.
The Blues were the worst team in the NHL at the turn of the calendar. Then, as we all know by now, they went on one of the most legendary runs in team history, if not NHL history.
While St. Louis would finish in third position in the Central Division, they had climbed to the top of the division for awhile. Then, they made their way through three of the toughest teams in the Western Conference.
The fact this series had to go seven games shows the team was never perfect. They just managed to get the job done.
The more adversity they faced, the more they rose to the occasion and they did just that.
The Blues were the team that came out with a lot of jump in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. They were jumping all over Boston, but they could not get pucks through to goal.
After that, they allowed Boston to pelt their net with goals. The Blues were on the verge of letting things slip away, but their not so nervous netminder bailed them out left and right. That bought St. Louis time and allowed them to get the game in their hands.
The Blues scored a late goal with just over three minutes left in the first and added an astounding second with just eight seconds left in the first frame. You got the feeling it might not be enough, but it was an unbelievable feeling to be ahead in the final game.
St. Louis kept their composure in the second period. Despite getting outshot 11-6, the Blues kept calm and kept Boston off the board.
In the third period, St. Louis would slowly bleed the game out. The Blues added two more insurance goals before Boston would get a goal in junk time to ruin the shutout. Nevertheless, it was an amazing game from the St. Louis standpoint and a night nobody will ever forget.
Pros: Jordan Binnington
We can argue until we are blue in the face – no pun intended – about who should have the Conn Smythe trophy. The bottom line there is it belongs to a member of the Blues.
The other bottom line is the Blues won Game 7 on the back of Jordan Binnington. He was absolutely amazing from puck drop to final horn.
The Blues allowed Binnington to be tested far too often in the first and second periods, but he seemed to thrive on it. The more shots that came his way, the more he looked determined to keep every single one of them out of the net.
Unlike some of the games that his counterpart played well in, this was truly a game that Binnington stole. He made just about every kind of save. Glove saves, pad saves, blocker saves, diving saves, skate saves. You name it, he did it.
The Blues needed their goaltender to be on point in the first period and he was. St. Louis managed to turn the puck over in some bad areas and they got away with it because Binnington had a performance for the ages.
As a fan of the Blues other goaltender, I have wanted to keep things calm about this guy and not get too excited. That said, his performance in Game 7 will go down as one of the best of all time.
He won more playoff games than any other rookie in NHL history. He might not have been the name we knew about going in, but he ended up being the goaltender we all dreamed of, stealing the Blues their first ever Stanley Cup.
Pros: Ryan O’Reilly
If Binnington was not going to win the league’s playoff MVP, you might as well give it to Ryan O’Reilly. The guy was a beast in the final round.
We found out after the series was over that O’Reilly was dealing with a cracked rib. That will never get the publicity that a broken jaw does, but given how hard it is to breathe without pain with bad ribs, the guts it took to play through that and play well is beyond the thinking of most humans.
O’Reilly was just a constant force throughout this game. He was one of the few Blues that managed to keep solid control of the puck throughout the night. The fact he scored the game-winning goal is almost an afterthought.
However, the goal was just one example of the phenomenal hand-eye coordination O’Reilly possesses. He got the tip on the goal and also knocked several pucks out of midair in the neutral zone, thwarting several Bruins’ attacks.
O’Reilly picked up two points in this game alone and ended the year on a six-game point streak. That put him with all-time greats like Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. He also joined the Great One as the only player to score a goal in four straight final games.
O’Reilly also added to his 23 postseason points. 23 puts him at the top of the Blues list, ahead of Hull, Federko, Gilmour, Oates and more.
He did it in a quiet, unassuming way, but O’Reilly just became an all-time St. Louis favorite with the way he played the final and the entire postseason.
Cons: Sloppy And Too Many Chances Given Up
The game was far from perfect for the St. Louis Blues. After coming out of the gates hot and hitting people, they started reverting back to what got them in trouble in Game 6.
The Blues were sloppy in those gray areas around the blue line from about the midway point of the first period onward. They were only credited with seven statistical turnovers, but they were not clean with the puck.
In the mid to late stages of the first period, the Blues were doing a lot wrong. The zone exits were bad, the turnovers were in bad areas and they started standing around a lot. If not for Binnington, this game could easily have been out of reach before the Blues even thought about scoring.
It carried over into the second period. The Blues kept having to try and dump the puck out because they refused to move their legs.
Even novice fans were noticing the lack of skating and standing around that was leading to prime chances given up. Binnington had to come up large throughout the game and many of the best chances against were from sloppy play overall.
Pros: The Overall Experience
This win was just about everything Blues fans ever hoped for. The team is finally a champion and we can stop hearing the lame jokes about how this team or that team has a Cup and the Blues do not.
We got everything out of this game. You had all the nerves through the first and second period. You got the timely goals that swung momentum in the Blues favor at the end of the first period.
The saves made by Binnington bordered on unbelievable. His performance will now be one of those highlight reels we get to see every year instead of always having the blue note on the short end of those videos.
While some will say it would have been more emotional to win a tight game, it was nice to enjoy the entire thing. It was all emotion, minus the nasty stress.
We joke about things all the time, but the line from Conan the Barbarian usually sums up my sports philosophy. When asked what is best in life, Conan replies “To crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And to hear the lamentation of the women.”
The Blues got all that in Game 7.
Watching it at the Enterprise Center was like watching with 19,000 of your closest friends. The experience at Busch Stadium, down the road, may have been similar.
Never before has that building been so loud and it has rocked countless times, especially in these playoffs.
We all have moments in our lives that hit those high notes. Weddings, births, meeting that special someone. As far as sports go, this one may never be touched for so many Blues fans.
— Bleedin’ Blue (@BleedinBlueFS) June 13, 2019
What do we do now Blues fans? We have suffered for so long and been the butt of so many lame jokes that true and ultimate success seems hard to handle. We will figure it out, but it almost feels strange not knowing what to do.
Normally, we have already been talking about World Championships and draft possibilities. Instead, this year we got hockey all the way until the final day. Instead of ultimate anguish, we got elation beyond belief.
Plenty of us had emotion on our faces or sleeves or whatever. A female fan was bawling her eyes out when the game was still slightly in doubt at 3-0. Still, you understood where she was coming from. I won’t deny that tears filled even my eyes.
It is hard to think of anyone that did not contribute in this game and this series. To have a team that you can honestly say everyone had a part to play is something pretty special.
They say you always remember your first. For Blues fans, that is going to be especially true.
Everyone thought this team could be good, but only the supremely optimistic thought this squad could win the Stanley Cup prior to the season. The way the year opened up, people were flying off the bandwagon at record pace. It was hard not to imagine blowing up the current roster.
The franchise stayed the course with the players. They made the right tweaks behind the bench and it all paid dividends.
My head is still swimming and I did not have a drop to drink. I can only imagine what is happening throughout the city.
Official merchandise sold out at certain establishments well before an hour after the game. This city was ready to celebrate and celebrate we will.