The Blues’ Stanley Cup Dream Is Dashed

 

St_Louis_Blues3@thelegendkil

ST. LOUIS, MO

The St. Louis Blues season ended in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals getting eliminated by the San Jose Sharks last week. It was a wild ride for the St. Louis Blues and especially for the fanbase, that grew as the postseason carried on. It was disappointing to see the Blues get this close to appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals and fell two games short. They were 4-6 at home and had the home ice advantage. The Blues just got beat by a better team flat out. The Sharks were more physical and they wasn’t giving the Blues much room to operate. The first two rounds of the playoffs the Blues were flying through the neutral zone creating several scoring attempts, sometimes controlling the puck at even strength and looking as if they’re on a power play. Well not this round. Then center Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks just owned the series scoring 8 points in the last five games of the series. As a whole he has notched 22 points in 18 games better than a point a game with a plus/minus rating of 3.

As the playoffs continue on without the Blues, they have some business to tend too with pending free agents. Unrestricted free agents David Backes and Troy Brouwer, both 32 years of age, and ranked 6th and 9th respectively by Frank Seravalli of TSN top 30 list of NHL free agents. I was also told that the Philadelphia Flyers have eyes for Backes and could offer as much as 25 million for three years. I could see him getting something like that; he had a great postseason and this was the most spirited I’ve seen him play since the 2002 Winter Olympics. Backes had finished with 14 points in the playoffs. He’s someone the Blues can’t afford to lose, but this could be his last chance to cash in. Troy Brouwer was second on the team with 8 playoff goals and he is in similar boat as Backes, we’ll find out in a couple of months how this will play out. Because, the Blues have to think ahead to 2017 free agency too, and head coach Ken Hitchcock contract expires next month.

But, I consider this a good season by the Blues for a few reasons. First, they appeared in only their third conference finals in the last 30 years. They knocked off the defending Stanley Cup and hugely disliked Chicago Blackhawks. Then followed that by beating the number one seed in the Western Conference Dallas Stars. The Blues were able to do this with a roster that had only two players over 20 goals or 50 points. They just ran out of gas. Two straight best of seven series caught up with them. The good that came out of it was the growth of the fanbase which is as diverse as ever. Quite honestly this might not have happened if the NFL was still in town. The Blues playoff run actually made many of us appreciate them more. It’s always nice to have playoffs outside of the baseball Cardinals, who’ve spoiled us so much with long runs into the start of the next hockey season.

The Rivalry Begins…Again

Blackhawks-BluesST. LOUIS, MO

@thelegendkil

Well it’s that time of the year again, the start of the NHL playoffs are here and the St.Louis Blues are about to face one of their most hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. And anytime when the Blues and Blackhawks get together it’s a fun time for fans in St.Louis and Chicago. But, when it’s the playoffs the heat gets turned up higher than you can turn a knob on a range oven.

The Blues have not fared well against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champions now boast a 32-24 all-time playoff record against the Blues. And to be honest the “Notes” hasn’t done too well in the playoffs as of late. It’s become almost custom that by the time your grass turns green the Blues are normally dismissed from the playoffs.

Fans throughout the region are collectively cautiously optimistic that this could be the year the Blues advance at least out of the first round of the playoffs. Especially, after another strong regular season netting a total of 107 points, without having more than two players net 20 goals. Or even have two players over 50 points for the season. The Blues averaged under three goals a game ranked in the middle of the pack at 15. But, the Blues did make up for that cracking the top ten in three other important categories; Ranking 2,4, and 6 in penalty kill, goaltending, and power play, according to NHLreference.com. Coach Ken Hitchcock in a brief presser said that every person is available health wise and that Blues Captain David Backes will be ready to play according to ESPN.com.

The defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks bring plenty of offensive fireworks led by Patrick Kane’s 106 points and second leading goal scorer Artemi Panarin’s 30 goals and 47 assists. And they get plenty of offense from their defensemen as well. Defenseman Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are ranked 4 and 5 respectively on their team in regards scoring. And can’t leave out that the Blackhawks are steered by former Blues coach Joel Quenneville.

And in order for the Blues to have any success against the Blackhawks, they have to remain aggressive especially on the power play. I noticed several times throughout the season they would have the puck on the power play and 15-20 seconds would go by without a shot being taken on net. Also my eyes will be on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk a very talented player yet he is a –14 when it comes to plus/minus rating. And the Blues have shown a tendency to get caught flat-footed creating odd man rushes, that’s something this team can ill afford to do. Obvious goals will be at a premium in the NHL playoffs, sometimes all you need is one goal.

Regardless, it’s good to have some playoff sports in the city of St.Louis, let’s hope the Blues give the “blues” to someone else for a change this spring. And nothing would be sweeter than eliminating a rival.

For more…follow me on Twitter @thelegendkil

Check out N The Zone on Facebook/Twitter