Bringing St. Louis together, Blues fans have been on the edge of their seats as the team returns to the Stanley Cup Finals after 49 years. With only one game left against the Boston Bruins, the team will have to fight hard for the title.
The Blues have only made three previous appearances in the finals, in each year from 1968-w70.
The Bruins, however, have won six championships, tied for fourth in all-time wins and tied for second in American wins with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The season had a rocky start. Head Coach Mike Yeo was fired, and interim coach Craig Berube from Canada was brought in.
Berube previously played in the NHL for 17 years with the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders.
In 2016, Berube coached the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League, which is the affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. In 2017, he was named an assistant head coach for the Blues, and in November 2018, when Mike Yeo was fired, he stepped up.
For most of this season, the St. Louis Blues could be deemed the underdogs. Halfway through the season, they were in last place. At the beginning of Berube’s watch and into January, the Blues were 15-18-4, the worst in the league.
But the season picked up when they got to 30-10-5, which included their franchise-record 11-game winning streak. This launched St. Louis’ new chant and theme song, “Gloria” by Laura Branigan. The team ended as third seed in the Central Division, but advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The later part of the season also saw the return of David Perron after his upper-body injury left him out for 24 games. Perron said he was ready to get back on the ice.
“I shed a few tears for some reason in warm-ups,” Perron commented during a press conference after his first game back. “I was just too excited to be out there, and that kind of took the stress away from me there. I just played after that. I’ve never had that before, but that’s kind of what happened.”
Goalie Jordan Binnington came out of nowhere to save the St. Louis Blues from their own destruction. With almost 40 saves in Game 5 of Round 4 against the Bruins and a save percentage of .927, the Blues might be nowhere without their rookie goalie.
“I’ve just been a hockey player,” Binnington told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was fortunate that I was able to focus on my hockey career. I was in a ton of goalie schools growing up. I put my time in, and my dad did a lot of work for me. As you get older you realize just how much he did. I’m happy I can make him proud and hopefully win one more series here,” Binnington said.
The first round went well against the Winnipeg Jets with a 4-2 lead, but the second round went to seven games, and the Blues clutched the win in double-overtime.
In Round 3 against the San Jose Sharks, a hand pass caused the Blues to go 4-5 and lose Game 3. After the pass, the team outscored the competition 12-2. Blues fans created tweets, memes and posts, but the Blues used it to push them to win the whole round, and the Western Conference Finals’ series.
Officials refereeing the games have been criticized throughout the Stanley Cup Finals series, including criticism from both Bruins and Blues fans and coaches. The Blues had minor penalties going into the last round, but during the first three games, they had five penalties, of which Berube was not a fan.
“We were the least penalized team in the first three rounds, and now all of a sudden we’ve taken 14 penalties in one series,” Berube said, according to CBS Boston. “I don’t agree with all the calls.”
One call earned Ivan Barbashev to be suspended from Game 6 in Round 4.
Now the Blues face the Bruins and are currently tied at 3-3 at press time. On May 21, the Blues won a Stanley Cup Finals’ game for the first time in franchise history by defeating the Bruins 3-1 in overtime. The last time they were at the Finals, they were swept. They led the round until last Sunday, when they gave up the game 5-1 at home. A city-wide rally, watch parties and fans from everywhere filled Market Street to cheer on the home team, but despite the loss, fans are still hopeful the team will win the Cup afterall.
Fans aren’t the only ones weighing in. The Boston Globe came out with a post bashing St. Louis and the food, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch came back with support for St. Louis. Regardless, Blues and Bruins alike have one goal in mind: to watch their team take home the cup. The winner will be determined tonight, 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 12 in Boston.
“(The Bruins) have to find the speed game that they generated in the first period,” NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury said. “The problem with that is I don’t think they can do it against St. Louis. St. Louis defense is strong, much quicker than we thought, their exits are easy, simple, they’re getting it in deep, and the pressure of the forwards of St. Louis has been incessant. I don’t know if they can get the job done.”
Left-winger Patrick Maroon is ready for game seven.
“It’s do or die now,” Maroon said, according to the St. Louis Blues Twitter account. “It’s an achievement to get this far and it’s exciting. But everyone wants to win.”