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A Look at the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues

A red-hot second half, and a classic hit song, led the St. Louis Blues to their very first Stanley Cup

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 9 days ago 7 min read
The St. Louis Blues were the last original expansion team to win a Stanley Cup

As the saying goes, "You always remember your first." That line definitely relates to the St. Louis Blues. A season prior, the Washington Capitals finally hoisted their first Stanley Cup after 44 years of trying and being snakebit at every turn (usually by the Pittsburgh Penguins). As jinxed as the Capitals were, the Blues' story is that much more heartbreaking. Here's what the team had to go through entering the 2018-19 season.

The St. Louis Blues were part of the NHL's original group of expansion teams in 1967, which saw the league double in size from six teams to 12. It was the Blues, the aforementioned Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Minnesota North Stars, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Oakland Seals. We all know the story of the Seals, they ended up folding after 11 years. As for the surviving members of the "Original Expansion Six," the Flyers became the first team to hoist the Stanley Cup, doing so in 1974 and 1975. The Penguins wouldn't win their first Cup until 1991, repeated in 1992, and won three more with some kid named Sidney Crosby. The North Stars moved to Dallas and dropped the "North" in 1993, and would win the Stanley Cup in 1999. The Kings would finally win their first Cup in 2012, and add a second two years later.

As for the Blues, it was nothing but pain and hardship. It didn't start that way. Each of their first three seasons saw the Blues reach the Stanley Cup Final, but in those appearances, they were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and 1969, and swept by the Boston Bruins in 1970, an imperfect 0-12 in Cup Final games. After that, they wouldn't come close to the Final for decades. This includes the years that they spent as a perennial playoff team in the Western Conference from the latter half of the 1990s and entering the new millennium. I remember those years. Half of the West's playoff field usually consisted of the Blues, the Stars, the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche, yet while the other three teams won Cups, the Blues only reached the 3rd round once.

The Blues plummeted to the point of obscurity, but would be back in the picture in the 2010s. They reached the Final Four in 2016, but were ousted by the San Jose Sharks. And then there's how the 2017-18 season ended. It was down to the Avs and Blues for the final playoff spot, and despite entering the final week with a better chance of getting in, the Blues fizzled with losses in their final two home games, and lost a winner-take-all affair to the Avs that ended their season. Just when things couldn't get any worse, the first half of the 2018-19 season was a disaster. A terrible start resulted in Mike Yeo being fired as head coach and replaced by Craig Berube, but when 2019 was rang in, the Blues actually had the worst record in the league.

Jordan Binnington took over as Blues netminder in January 2019

Once upon a time, nobody had an inkling that Jordan Binnington even existed, let alone the fact that he's a toxic asswipe. Jake Allen was not the answer in net; that was proven in the prior season. In January of 2019, Binnington was called up to take over in net, and it worked wonders for the team. The team went on an 11-winning streak, and regarding Binnington, he started 30 games and won all but six of them! His other stats: 1.89 GAA, .927 SV%, and five shutouts. Mind you, this is in much less than half a season! The Blues managed to climb the ladder; as late as January 3, 2019, they were in the bottom of a 31-team league. In barely over three months, they went from 31st to 12th overall, third place in the Central, qualifying for that year's playoffs after missing out completely a year prior.

The Blues faced the Winnipeg Jets in the Central Division Semifinals, and that was an interesting series. The series was 2-2 after four games, and Game Five was tied late until Jaden Schwartz put one in with less than 20 seconds left. Blues won 3-2, and took Game Six to advance. The Central Division Final against the Dallas Stars went the maximum seven games, with Game Seven going to double overtime despite the Blues outshooting Dallas horrendously. I remember this so well; Ben Bishop was in net for Dallas, and he was standing on his head for the Stars, but received very little shot support. It looked like Dallas had a chance to steal it, but Pat Maroon (born in St. Louis) ended it barely over five minutes in to the fifth period.

The Blues faced off against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final, a rematch of the 2016 West Final. This series was known for the controversial ending to Game Three; it went to overtime, and the Sharks scored after a hand pass from Timo Meier was overlooked. The Sharks went up 2-1 after that victory, but that would be their last win, as the Blues would take the next three games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 49 years.

The Blues faced off against the Boston Bruins, the team who swept them back in 1970. They entered the 2019 Final with no wins in Cup Final games, but 0-12 would become 0-13 after the Blues lost Game One. However, Game Two went to overtime, and Carl Gunnarsson's goal (his only one of the 2019 playoffs) would give the Blues their first win in a Cup Final game. The series was 2-2 after four games, and Game Five went the Blues' way after a goal scored following a non-call against the Blues ended up being the game winner. The Blues failed to clinch the Cup at home in Game Six, but Game Seven was a different story. It was all Blues in the game at Boston, as they actually led 4-0 in the 3rd period. Jake DeBrusk ended the shutout, but that was it. The final ticks went off, and after 52 years of heartbreak and everything going wrong, the Blues did one big thing right.

Now, before I continue, I have to mention this:

All sports success stories have an interesting tidbit, and in the case of the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues, the tidbit came in the form of two words: Play Gloria. The soundtrack to the Blues' rags-to-riches latter half of their season was the memorable hit song, Gloria, performed by the late, great Laura Branigan. As the origin story goes, a few Blues players were at a sports bar watching the famous "Double Doink" NFC Wild Card Game, and Gloria was playing. One guy at the bar requested that the DJ continue to play the song, and the players decided to adopt the classic hit as a victory song. Sure enough, Gloria was played during their wins in the regular season and playoffs, and it became immensely popular in St. Louis once they ended up winning the Cup.

Ryan O'Reilly won the Conn Smythe Trophy; leading the team in points during the playoffs

The Blues clinched their first Stanley Cup in franchise history on June 12, 2019. I expected Jordan Binnington to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy, but the award ended up going to Ryan O'Reilly, who led the team in points with 23 (8 G/15 A). Jaden Schwartz led the team with 12 goals in the 2019 playoffs, while Vladimir Tarasenko (the team's regular season goals leader) scored 11 goals. Pat Maroon's double overtime winner against Dallas was one of only three he scored, and also, this was the first of three straight Stanley Cups he would win. Maroon ended up going to the Tampa Bay Lightning and won back-to-back Cups with that team, and fell two wins short of a fourth straight Cup in 2022.

The Blues were the oldest existing team to have never won a Stanley Cup, but with their 2019 championship, that unfortunate nod is now shared between the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks, who both began play in 1970. Hard to believe that in only four years, the Blues went from being in the penthouse to being in the outhouse. Playoff disappointments for three years, and this season has been so bad that they decided to just tear it down. At least they'll have 2019 to look back on, an absolutely amazing year that saw the Blues finally reach the top of the proverbial mountain after just over five decades of suffering.


About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

Twitter - Facebook - Tiktok - Instagram

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