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St. Louis Blues Shocking the Hockey World … Again

After a rough offseason riddled with trades and lost talent, the St. Louis Blues overcame the odds to clinch a playoff spot once again, for the sixth season in a row. And now they’re on a roll with a run nobody expected, up 3-0 in the first-round series against Minnesota.

Photo courtesy of Google

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St. Louis hockey fans are busy celebrating the Blues 50th anniversary season, and the team gave back with a late-run playoff berth and now an unlikely blanking of the Minnesota Wild in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This offseason proved to be a challenge for the organization with the loss of team captain David Backes to the Boston Bruins, long-time goaltender “Mooooooose,” Brian Elliott, and 2016 playoff standout Troy Brouwer, both to the Calgary Flames.

Moving Kevin Shattenkirk was an offseason debacle in and of itself, as the organization overvalued him and failed to trade him prior to the 2016 NHL draft, which was a weight on the club’s shoulders heading into the 50th anniversary season.

A few much-needed pieces were added including David Perron, Nail Yakupov and the extension of goaltender Jake Allen, but the quality of players lost outweighed the talent added back to the roster, leaving many Blues fans questioning how the team would perform in the season and post-season.

Well, a 3-0 lead over Minnesota going into Game 4 Wednesday, April 19, should answer some of those questions.

“I thought the Blues definitely still had a chance to make the playoffs but I didn’t assume anything was going to come easy. With new leadership in the locker room, teams always tend to have an adjustment period, so I was more or less hoping that the time it took for the Blues to find themselves as a team this season didn’t affect their opportunity to make a playoff run,” said Matt Qualley, long-time Blues fan now residing in Colorado.

The new leadership did call for an adjustment period, and the organization saw fit to change coaches midway through the year.

After Ken Hitchcock went 24-21-5 through the first 50 games of the season, he was relieved by Mike Yeo, who took the team from a second wild card holding to third in the division with a 22-8-2 record to finish out the year, clinching a playoff spot for the sixth year in a row.

The young team relied on their forward marksman Vladimir Tarasenko to produce offense during the regular season and the skill of Jake Allen in net to keep every game close, and both put up great numbers once again.

Christmas came early for the Blues during the last week of the season as Vladimir Sobotka made his long-awaited return to the franchise from the Kontinental Hockey League, just in time for the playoffs, scoring the first goal of the series against the Minnesota Wild.

Despite early success, many have yet to view the club as a real threat to top-tier teams like the Penguins, Ducks and Oilers.

“So, do I think the Blues have a chance of winning the cup? Well I know from what I’m hearing from other people and analysts, they are not giving us very good chances whatsoever. Although last night we proved them wrong, after winning 3-1, three games in a row,” said Andrew Kyle, senior sports management major at MBU.

Hockey is a team sport, but Allen can be credited with a majority of the success for the Blues thus far, saving 114 of 117 shots against a team that scored the second most goals during the regular season, 3.21 per game.

“Ever since we fired Ken Hitchcock in the middle of the season, statistically we’ve been one of the best teams in the NHL. Goals allowed average No. 1, save percentage No. 1 or No. 2, power play the top three or four in the league and we are tied for first or second most wins and points during that span,” said Kyle.

The Blues entered the postseason with a generous amount of momentum and a hunger to win, overcoming adversity along the way with the motive to prove the skeptics wrong and make the city of St. Louis proud, to bring home the cup during a memorable 50th anniversary season, regardless of the road they’re given to get there.

Three games down, 13 to go. Let’s Go Blues.

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Josh Eaton

Josh Eaton

Josh Eaton is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. He is a junior majoring in journalism at Missouri Baptist University. He enjoys leading worship as well as researching, playing and watching everything sports in his spare time.

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