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St. Louis Blues: The State of the franchise

A look at where they are
Source: St. Louis Dispatch

I figured since the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup they deserve their own article outside of the State of 2019 NHL Playoff Teams, which is why they were not in the western conference article there.  So this is for you Blues fans and team.

The Blues have amazed the world.  Going from dead last in January to best of the best in only a few months.  This is easily one of, if not the greatest feat in NHL history. The Blues never gave up and often times that is the key to success.  This was reinforced by some new coaching and they were able to get back on track to where they needed to go. Honestly, it was kind of surprising to me to see the Blues in dead last anyway. 

They had the talent except for the goalie position but they should have at least been middle of the road. Needless to say, I was not expecting a middle of the road team who was worse than that for much of the season to win the Stanley Cup.  This goes back to one of the most important things in the world of sports. Does your squad underachieve, give you what you expect, or overachieve? You will find that squads that do the last one almost always win the cup. This is why I never trust teams like the Predators.  It is rare to see an underachieving team such as the Capitals or Predators win the cup, even so it does still happen.  

So what else helped the Blues win the cup?  Three simple answers: leadership on the ice, physicality and goaltending.  The Blues true leader throughout the playoffs was plainly obvious, Ryan O’Reilly.  He was a huge factor in scoring, getting physical, staying calm and setting the right attitude for the team.  He lead by his example and it was a big factor in the Blues winning the cup. If he keeps this up he and his team could very well be like the Penguins have been in the past, dominant and multiple time champions.

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The second component to their success was physicality.  They were incredibly rough to the point at which they were actually crossing the line.  When it comes to who the Blues were playing, it was the perfect strategy. You will notice the Blue Jackets earlier in the playoffs were very physical with the Bruins and despite being desperately outmatched gave the Bruins a run for their money.  The Blues did the same thing and then turned it up a notch. The direct effect of the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes all beating up the Bruins before the Cup final and their regular season resulted in eight injured Bruins. Some of which were playing through it, while others could not. 

So picture this, you are the Blues, your opposition is banged up from all the previous rounds of the playoffs and regular season. What are you going to do? Beat them up even more, of course. The idea is to make them hurt and tired so they could not perform at 100%. The physicality worked like a charm.

(Side note: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t commend intentionally injuring players to gain an advantage and I do not think the coach was telling them to do so, I just know that they were trying to wear them down by beating up the already beat up Bruins.  As for what individual players did, that’s on them)

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The final facet that won the Blues the cup was plain as day, Jordan Binnington.  This man is the next big thing in the world of goaltending and the Blues just locked him down in a two year contract.  He showed one of the most clutch Stanley Cup Final performances in NHL history. He was the biggest reason the Blues won the cup.  He is here for years to come and the Blues will no doubt be a cup contender no matter their record from here on out. He does deserve significant praise but he actually wasn’t the best goalie in the playoffs.  I have to give that to Ben Bishop. He made some incredible saves, had some amazing clutch games and did astronomical during OT games. During one game against the Blues he actually stopped 52 shots on goal. I think Binnington can live with being the second best goalie in the playoffs, he won the cup.  

Obviously the Blues will be back for more, so if I were anyone in the Central Division I would be preparing for them.  They have no reason to stop or slow down, minus the annual curse of the cup winner. Their playoff resilience is particularly outstanding.  The Blues are here to stay. However, with the NHL it is easy come, easy go, so as I have said a thousand times and will say a thousand times again, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Even a Blues team dead last to first place or even that same squad missing the playoffs the next year.

Enjoy this next season Blues fans and everyone, it is looking to be a good one.

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