The remarkable story of the St. Louis Blues will continue into the Stanley Cup Final. St. Louis closed out Game 6 of the Western Conference Final with a statement 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 49 years where they will play the Boston Bruins for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup.
It has been a long journey for St. Louis to get back to a Stanley Cup Final. Not to mention the journey just to get to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was a difficult one. More on the latter in a little bit. St. Louis has been a model franchise ever since they entered the NHL as part of the 1967 expansion. St. Louis only missed the playoffs nine times in 51 seasons. St. Louis went to the Stanley Cup Finals in each of the teams first three seasons between 1968 through 1970 but failed to lift the Stanley Cup. The last defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins, where Bobby Orr had his most famous moment, whom St. Louis faces in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
Through the years, St. Louis put teams together that were very competitive. Unfortunately, they could never cross the finish line especially with players on the team like Adam Oates, Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Curtis Joesph, Chris Pronger, Keith Tkachuk, and the list goes on. St. Louis would never get to their ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup as St. Louis would lose lost to either a Central Division rival or the eventual Stanley Cup Champions. It appeared St. Louis would finally get over the hump in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs St. Louis made it to the Western Conference Final before they fell to the San Jose Sharks.
After the train fell off the rails to close out the 2017-18 season, St. Louis retooled in the 2018 offseason as they signed players like Tyler Bozak, Pat Maroon, and David Perron during free agency. St. Louis General Manager Doug Armstrong, who is a finalist for the GM of the Year, traded for Ryan O’ Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres. Confidence was high for St. Louis as they began the 2018-19 campaign. Unfortunately, for the St. Louis things did not go exactly as planned. After a record of 7-9-3 St. Louis fired then head coach Mike Yeo back on November 19, 2018, in favor of Craig Berube, who would be the head coach on an interim basis. It took some time for the players to adjust to Berube’s coaching style as St. Louis fell further down in the standings.
As St. Louis sat in last place in the Western Conference on January 3rd, 2019 rumors were floated around about how St. Louis would trade Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jay Bouwmeester come the trade deadline. St. Louis made a change at the goaltender position by inserting Jordan Binnington into the mix. Binnington, who is nominated for the Calder Trophy as a top rookie in the NHL, gave the players and the team the confidence they needed to win games. Nothing against Jake Allen, but he just could never find his place in St. Louis. Binnington settled the ship, and St. Louis began to put together wins that catapulted them up the standings. Every team has a rallying cry and for St. Louis it was the song “Gloria” by Laura Branigan. Each time St. Louis wins a game, that song could be heard playing from their locker room, and at home games, the song would be played through the sound system for the fans to hear.
When St. Louis qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs back on March 29, 2019, they became the seventh team since the 1967-68 expansion to qualify for the playoffs after being in last place after January 1st. Not to mention St. Louis just becomes the fourth team since the 1967-68 expansion to reach the Stanley Cup Final after being in last place after the first of the year. It did not hurt that teams in the Western Conference did not grab the Wild Card spots early enough to knock St. Louis out of contention. Give credit to St. Louis for taking advantage of a weak Western Conference. St. Louis was one of the hottest teams, if not the hottest teams as the Stanley Cup Playoffs began. St. Louis knocked Central Division rivals the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars in the first two rounds of the playoffs before they took down San Jose in six games in the Western Conference Final.
Every team has to go through some adversity during a season to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. If you had said at the beginning of the season St. Louis would be in the Stanley Cup, no one would have batted an eye. If that same person, would have said St. Louis would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final on January 3rd, people would have called you crazy. St. Louis has been a good team all season, sometimes it just a little extra to find out what your team is made of.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins is scheduled for Monday, May 27 at 8 pm EST inside TD Garden.