The Road to the Stanley Cup: The St. Louis Blues

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St. Louis Blues
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 12: Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Boston Bruins in Game Seven to win the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Blues have finally done it! After 51 long years of coming up short, the Blues have finally won the Stanley Cup. The Blues road to the playoffs and the Stanley Cup was not easy at all but they did it. After a season of highs and lows, the St. Louis Blues are now 2019 Stanley Cup Champions.

The Road to the Stanley Cup

The 2018 Off-season

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong needed to make a splash in the off-season of 2018 and he did just that. July 1st, 2018 marked the start of free agency and it was a frenzy. Left and right there were moves being made and Blues fans just sat back and waited. The first free agent signing for the Blues was winger David Perron. For the third time in his career, David Perron is heading back to the Blues. He signed a four year, $16 million deal. Just a short time later the Blues signed center Tyler Bozak to a three year, $15 million deal. The Blues also signed backup goaltender Chad Johnson to a one year deal. He didn’t make it through the season as the Blues let him go mid-way through the season.

Almost everyone thought the Blues were done. Then hours later when the day was almost over, the Blues pulled off a surprising trade. The Blues traded center Patrik Berglund, center Vladimir Sobotka, prospect center Tage Thompson, 2019 first round pick, and 2021 second round pick for center Ryan O’Reilly. This seemed like a lot for one player but it worked out great. The Blues got rid of two bad contracts. They had plenty of other prospects so getting rid of Thompson might have hurt a little at the time but not that much for O’Reilly. A few days later on July 8th, the Blues signed hometown kid Patrick Maroon. This was the icing on the cake of what was thought to be one of the best off-seasons of any team.

The First Three Months

Coming into the season, everyone was excited to see what the Blues could do. The season started at home against the Winnipeg Jets on October 4th. It wasn’t a good way to start the year as they lost 5-1. A couple of days later they lost to the rival Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime. The month went on and the Blues had lost two in a row twice and lost three in a row once. The team ended with a record of 3-4-3. It certainly was not the beginning they hoped for but they wanted to see what November held. It wasn’t pretty.

November was even worse for this team. They had another couple of losing streaks and a three-game losing streak. By this time the team didn’t look like they gave it their all. In every post-game interview the Blues gave the same answers like we need to try harder or we didn’t do enough to win. They knew all of this but yet they didn’t fix it. Head coach Mike Yeo looked like he lost this team. The locker room wasn’t connected and Yeo was fired on November 19th after a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles Kings. Craig Berube was named interim head coach. They lost their first game 4-1 to the Nashville Predators under Berube but they had a little extra step in that game. The team ended the month of November with a 9-12-3 record on the season.

It was December and they still couldn’t figure it out. They started out the month with a two-game losing streak. They finished 6-6-1 in the month of December and finished 2018 with a record of 15-18-4. The month was a little better but still not at all where this team should be.

The Start of a New Year

On January 3rd the Blues were dead last in the NHL but the month of January was also the turning point for this Blues team. They started it off with a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders but it looked very good after that. The Blues looked to see what they had in other goaltenders so they started a rookie goalie named Jordan Binnington. He made his first career NHL start on January 7th against the Philadelphia Flyers. In his first career start, he earned a shutout as the Blues won 3-0. The next game Jake Allen started again and they lost 3-1. Binnington got the next couple of starts and they had their first three-game winning streak of the season. They ended the month of January at .500 for the first time in a long time at 22-22-5. They also ended the month with a 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. This just started the best stretch of Blues hockey in franchise history.

The month of February was by far the best month of hockey by the Blues. They started the month with a franchise record 11 game winning streak. They started using Binnington a lot and they ended the month of February way over .500 at 34-23-6. The month of March was good as well as they fought for a playoff spot. They ended the month with a record of 42-28-8. At this point, they were well into a playoff spot and they were even fighting for one of the top three spots in the division. They won three of four in April and finished third in the division with 99 points.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Blues faced the Jets in the first round. The Jets were big and tough but the Blues stuck to their game and won in six games. They got the Dallas Stars in the second round. They both battled and forced a game seven. In double overtime, Patrick Maroon scored to send the Blues to the Western Conference Finals. The Blues faced a really good San Jose Sharks team. They faced controversy with a missed hand pass to give the Sharks a 2-1 series lead but the they bounced back and won the series 4-2. They were headed to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970.

A rematch of the 1970 finals took place against the Boston Bruins. This series was very physical and because of that, Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev each got a game suspension. This didn’t affect the Blues as this series went to a game seven. The Blues looked great in game seven and won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. Ryan O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. Binnington was also great. He is a huge reason the Blues won it all.

What a Season

The Blues started off very slow but ended it with the best prize in all of sports; the Stanley Cup. Though 51 years of pain, suffering, and heartbreak, St. Louis finally won the cup. This feels great for the city and everyone involved. We don’t know what the next season holds but for now, St. Louis can enjoy this one for a long time.

 

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