By: Sammy Stava
Either David Backes will win the Stanley Cup against his former team or the St. Louis Blues will win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Yes, that’s the storyline for this 2019 Stanley Cup Final. That’s the same series that the Blues are in for the first time in 49 years, a re-match of 1970 against the Boston Bruins.
It’s another Boston vs St. Louis championship series in professional sports, the only two cities that have happened to meet for NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL titles. Boston is trying to become the first city since Detroit in 1935-136 to win the World Series, Super Bowl, and Stanley Cup in the same season.
Meanwhile, onto St. Louis, and after a statement 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 on Tuesday night, the Blues are your 2019 Western Conference Champions. It’s the team’s first Western Conference Championship in franchise history. Their 12 postseason wins so far in these playoffs are a franchise best.
The Blues are also 0-12 in Stanley Cup Final games, but those first three years of the franchise’s existence doesn’t even compare to where this franchise is right now, and what this particular moment means to this city.
Who has the most playoff appearances in the NHL without winning a Stanley Cup? The St. Louis Blues do. Only the Boston Bruins are in the way from changing that. And boy, will they bring a tough challenge to these Blues. A top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak might just be the best in the NHL, and goaltender Tukka Rask might be an even tougher task than facing Ben Bishop. But that’s not going to intimidate this Blues team, because nothing will.
The Blues were one of seven teams in NHL history to make the playoffs after being in last place in the league sometime after New Year’s Day. Six of those seven teams lost in the first round, and this team is heading to the Stanley Cup Final.
In the first round, they faced a 2-0 third period deficit in Game 5 at Winnipeg and rallied to win 3-2.
In the second round, they trailed the Dallas Stars 3-2 in the series and managed to exercise their demons by winning Games 6 and 7 (by hometown hero Patrick Maroon in double-overtime).
In the Western Conference Final, they lost Game 3 in overtime by the infamous hand-pass to trail the series 2-1. They won three straight to clinch the series, outscoring San Jose 12-2 without the Sharks ever leading again.
And now the Blues are here, in the NHL’s biggest stage. They’re here because of Jaden Schwartz, who has 12 playoff goals, which is one shy of tying Brett Hull for most postseason goals in franchise history. Schwartz is also the first NHL player that has two hat tricks in the postseason since Detroit’s Johan Franzen in 2008 (and the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup that year). They’re here because of captain Alex Pietrangelo, who has 13 points in the playoffs, setting a postseason record by a Blues’ defenseman. They’re here because of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, who holds the record for most postseason wins by a Blues goaltender. They’re here because of GM Doug Armstrong’s offseason work, acquiring key contributors in Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon, and David Perron. And they’re here because of “Gloria”, the rally song that has changed the season and captured the national audience.
They’re here now, but there are no guarantees that this franchise will ever get back to this stage again. This is their chance to win it all, and they have everything going for them.
Only David Backes and the Boston Bruins stand in their way.
Here’s the Stanley Cup Final schedule (all times 7:00 p.m. CT)
Game 1 – Monday, May 27th in Boston
Game 2 – Wednesday, May 29th in Boston
Game 3 – Saturday, June 1st in St. Louis
Game 4 – Monday, June 3rd in St. Louis
Game 5 – Thursday, June 6th in Boston (if necessary)
Game 6 – Sunday, June 9th in St. Louis (if necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, June 12th in Boston (if necessary)