History has officially been made. Headlined by the star goalie Jordan Binnington, the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues have won the Stanley Cup, after 52 years in the making. They win the title on the back of an absolutely terrific season. After ranking last place in the league in early January, St. Louis was able to claw their way into a playoff spot. They ended the season ranked third in their division but, as a result of the weak season, were the clear underdogs for most NHL fans. Yet, the Blues were able to surprise everyone. They dominated their way to the Stanley Cup Final, boasting a truly rare amount of depth in their roster.
At last, this roster was able to reach their true potential. They won the Stanley Cup. This is an amazing way to cap off some of the great storylines that St. Louis has had this year. Zach Sanford is able to accomplish his late father’s dream of not only playing in the NHL but getting his name on the Stanley Cup. Pat Maroon‘s homecoming, no matter how shaky, is capped off by an amazing post-season. Ryan O’Reilly shows his true prowess in the league with a championship title in his first year outside of the Buffalo Sabres shadow. After a humbling loss in Game 6, the Blues were finally able to make their mark in history in Wednesday night’s Game 7. They toppled the Boston Bruins 4-1 and, once again, won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. They did it Blues fans.
There is no doubting who the star of Game 7 was. Even if the Blues had lost, Blues star rookie goalie Jordan Binnington had a historically amazing game. The Bruins pressure throughout the entire game was absolutely unprecedented. They tallied 12 shots through the first period alone, with every single one being a high-quality scoring chance. Binnington was able to shut down everything, though. In total, he saved 32 shots, only allowing one goal. He was dominant through the entire game, shutting down what was a scary-good Boston offence.
Jordan Binnington is yet another example of an amazing storyline being capped off with a championship ring. After being constantly ignored by the Blues organization, Binnington has become an elite NHL talent in only six months. He went from a star in the AHL to a star in the NHL, setting or breaking many records on his way. That crazy ride to stardom is now capped off with an absolutely dominant Game 7 performance.
Return to the Status Quo
The Boston Bruins did an amazing job of flipping the script in the first period of Game 7. Previously in the series, the Blues had dominated play in the Bruins zone. They had a dynamic offence that created an immense amount of pressure. During the first period, the two teams changed roles. The Bruins dominated the game while the Blues had to rely on the strong play from Binnington to keep them in the game.
Lucky for St. Louis, this play didn’t last long. The Blues were able to silence the Bruins after two quick goals to end the first period. When the teams returned to the ice for the second period, the Bruins were much tamer. Instead of the game being reliant on the rookie Binnington’s performance, it was much more even. Muting the Bruins also allowed the Blues to slowly build up momentum. They did this beautifully throught the second period. By the halfway point of the period, the puck rarely crossed into the Blues zone. Instead, the Blues emphatically dominated the Bruins through the rest of the game.
Quality Over Quantity
Through the first two periods, the Blues only tallied 10 shots on net. The Bruins, on the other hand, had an impressive 23. The difference maker, though, was the Blues ability to reject all low-chance shots. All ten of their shots were quality opportunities and a strong net-front presence helped make each shot even more dangerous.
This was the opposite of the Blues mindset in Game 6, where they couldn’t seem to record an effective shot to save their life. Even their one goal came off of a low-quality, easily-savable shot. A switch was much-needed. When that switch came in Game 7, it was clear that the Blues were the better team.
As a Blues fan myself, I won’t be able to stop repeating this in my head. The Blues are Stanley Cup Champions. They did it. They won. This season has been a roller coaster for the team. It started with an unconfident group of guys on the ice, who focused more on bantering internally than winning games. The team was led by Mike Yeo who, while a good coach usually, was doing very little to fix any issues. They had no consistency, backed by a terrible duo of goalies.
Yet, everything changed when Craig Berube was named the head coach. He instilled confidence in the team, something that was much needed. While this newfound confidence was great, it wasn’t enough. The team still needed a big change to spark a true comeback from the last place in the league. That’s where Jordan Binnington came in. He was recalled in early January and immediately made an impact. His phenomenal play sparked a complete revolution. The St. Louis Blues went from one of the worst teams in the league to easily the best. They established a calm, collected, but determined style of play. Berube taught the team to want to do nothing more than win, yet to stay calm if they weren’t able to.
This mindset carried the Blues to the playoffs and, eventually to a Stanley Cup victory. They faced more adversity than most teams in league history. Between an awful start to the year, the hand pass in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, and a hard loss in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the universe was clearly against the Blues this year. Yet, nothing could stop them. They went from an unmotivated group of men to an inseparable team of brothers.
Together, this group did it. They won the Stanley Cup. For the first time in history, a Blues player poses with the NHL commissioner for a historic photo before hoisting the Stanley Cup. They did it St. Louis. Scream, party, rock your Blues jerseys and play Gloria as loud as you can.
The St. Louis Blues are the Stanley Cup Champions.
Ryan O’Reilly was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Playoff MVP. He was acquired from the Sabres over the summer in exchange for Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, and two draft picks.
In his first post-season run to go past seven games, O’Reilly tallied 21 points. As the star of the Blues roster, O’Reilly carried the team to an immortal Stanley Cup win.
View the original article on Last Word On Hockey: Jordan Binnington Leads St. Louis Blues to First Stanley Cup