Wow… I mean just wow… From dead last to Champions. The St. Louis Blues have done the unthinkable. But to take a deeper look at this team it’s not surprising that they are on an all night bender somewhere in a St. Louis bar.
We talk about all the time you need three key things to win a Stanley Cup coaching, depth scoring, and goaltending. The Blues had that in spades.
Craig Berube came in at Christmas and got waxed in his first three games as head coach. This apparently did not phase the former NHL veteran. Instead it weathered him. Gave him the taste in his mouth he needed. The stories about this guy are becoming legendary. Whether it is talking to his eventual gave five hero at the urinal, or simply stating “it’s over move on”after a blown call against San Jose. The man was the perfect person for the job.
Timely scoring, who was the Blues best player? Well the league will tell you it was Ryan O’Reilly, but I think anyone who watched this team would ask which series? Early Jaden Schwartz was lighting the league on fire, later Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron found their touch. How about Partick Maroon’s over time goal at home? How about Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo? Those two both had votes for the Conn Smythe. All of these guys were critical pieces to his to the puzzle to win the cup. Was Ryan O’Reilly their best player? Clearly the man scored in four straight games in the final for the first time since literally f*cking Gretzky. But the Blues were greater than the sum of their parts.
Finally, goaltending was the eventual dagger in the Bruins heart. Jordan Big D*ck Binnington was masterful last night. His ability to not just make the big stops but the routine stops was like watching one of the greats being to carve their legacy. The kid started with a quote, “do I look nervous?” he ended with a cup ring. The numbers will tell you that Rask was the better keeper in the series and the entirety of the playoffs. Which he was, in fact he was so good he could have won the Conn Smythe in a losing effort. But anyone who has played the game will tell you Binnington’s performance last night wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t rookie luck, it was a true master of the craft putting in a dominating performance. All night I kept thinking of the magnificent performance I’ve ever seen in the playoffs. Jonathan Quick in 12, Tim Thomas in 11, Marc Andre Fleury in 09, Khabibulin in 04, Ward in 2000, Belfore in 99. This performance from Binnington in these playoffs and in particular last night will go down in hockey history forever.
To the Boston Bruins credit this is their third cup appearance in ten years. Only the Penguins and Hawks can boast the same thing. But the Pens and Hawks have three cups to their name. It’s hard to imagine they are out of the race for another cup. Zdeno Chara may have played his last game as a Bruin, but their young defensive crop are more capable to grow without him. Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand are growing old in the tooth, but they have enough young talent alongside them to insulate them for another few years. Simply put the Bruins aren’t going anywhere.
This Stanley Cup final series was the best we have had in a long time. Since 1939 when the league switched to a seven game format the cup has only been played for in sixteen game sevens. That’s incredible! Out of eighty one matchups only 5% of the time has it taken seven games. This series was everything you could have asked for in a Stanley Cup Final. It was hockey at its best, and hopefully created life long fans for both teams and the sport.