Blues In Six!

The St. Louis Blues have shocked the hockey world and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final where they will face the Boston Bruins. Since the beginning of the playoffs, they have not been given their due. While the hockey talking heads marvel at the Blues “last place in January” scenario, and rightly so, they imply that this is too good to last.

In the Western Conference Final, the commentators spent a lot of time falling over in admiration for the San Jose Sharks. I think this partly is because of the formula that makes the Blues so great. They do not have individual super stars like Logan Couture or beloved veterans like Joe Thornton that the press likes to praise and feature in profiles. The Blues are great because they are the ultimate team. They have a rookie goalie in Jordan Bennington that should not be this good, this young, yet he is. They have names you know like Vladimir Tarasenko or Ryan O’Reilly, but throughout the playoffs, different guys have stepped up and made a difference. Night in and night out they play as a unified, fighting whole. That team is so deep that different individuals can step up and make game changing plays. The fourth line is as dangerous as the first and they do not give up. This, in general, is why the St. Louis Blues will win the Stanley Cup. Still, it may be fairly asked, what specific characteristics of this team will lead to victory. Here are some that I think will impact this series:

1) The Blues have shown throughout the series they can win on the road. This team is 5-2 on enemy ice (for example, the Shark Tank) during the playoffs. They should take at least one of the first two games in Boston.

2) The Blues are fighters from start to finish. They have a lively and aggressive fore check that keeps the puck in the zone (and out of the defensive zone) to allow opportunities to score.

3) The Blues are not a finesse hockey team. They hit and grind, but at the same time they do not take many foolish penalties. They get the puck to goal and keep fighting, until it goes in. In the Western Conference clincher, the Sharks had only one power play, which the Blues killed. Furthermore, the Blues power play has gotten better as the playoffs have gone on. They have at least one power play goal in their last four games.

4) The Boston Bruins have not been challenged much in the playoffs. It has been a little too easy. I mean no disrespect to the Hurricanes, but they were buried by the Bruins and that can lead to overconfidence. The Blues are a lot of things, but overconfident is not one of those things. They have had to fight the whole way and that fight is still in them. The Bruins have had a long layoff after not fighting too hard in the playoffs. If the Bruins just fall back on Tuukka Rask (a fabulous goalie to be sure), they will lose. The Blues will be in the zone, attacking, attacking, attacking and in that scenario no goalie can last forever.

Blues in six!