Alas, another season has come and gone and Canucks fans are left once again without their team ready to take them to the dance. So what are you to do? Fear not! As we are the helpful and caring types, we have begun our annual campaign to find homes for Canucks fans who don’t want hockey to be over. Remember, your loyalty is nothing trivial, so make them tell you why you should pledge your allegiance in the quest for hockey’s ultimate prize.
They really shouldn’t be here. In December, the St Louis Blues were sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They’d already fired their coach and a team that has some bonafide stars was looking like they’d be one of this season’s biggest disasters. Then, they called up a goalie from their farm team at the end of the year and went on a tear unlike any we’ve seen in years. They went from last to almost winning their division. It doesn’t even seem possible, but it happened. So, should Canucks fans cheer for the only team who have gone longer in their quest for their first Cup? We spoke with St Louis Game Time’s @hildymac about her beloved Blues.
1- The Blues have been on an amazing run since Christmas. Can they sustain this on the back of a goalie facing pressure unlike anything he’s used to?
I think that they can if you place the onus on Binnington. If you watch Binnington play vs. Jake Allen, you’ll see his reactions are way more measured and are appropriate for what the other teams throw at him. Allen tends to react more in stituations that really don’t call for it (see: him sliding across the crease to gain position, which then leads to him sliding *out* of position and a goal against - that happens more than it should).
I think you could run Binnington down with a semi and he’d just blink and go “cool.” That’s pretty much what happened to him to start game one.
2- Since using Binnington as a selling point to Vancouver fans is a non-starter, tell us about some other Blues that we may not be so familiar with that the team is counting on.
Oskar Sundqvist has been a delight this season. No one expected much more than a competent bottom six guy (if that) when he came over here as part of the Ryan Reaves deal from Pittsburgh.
He plays wherever he’s told to and he’s good at it - he has 14 goals and 17 assists in 74 regular season games, which are career highs. He’s also just darn happy to be out there. His nickname of Sunny fits.
Ivan Barbashev’s in the same mold - he’s gone from a training camp question mark to someone who’s a solid third or fourth liner (or higher, if he needs to) with 14 goals on the year. It’s hard to complain about that.
3- Last chance to make a pitch here. Sure it’s a low bar to get people not to cheer for Winnipeg (I mean, have you ever been there?). So lay it all out for us. Why should we cheer for the Blues?
That’s such a hard question to answer because all of us have been conditioned to expect the worst, so I’ll just go and say that they have Craig Berubre, who did this to the Jets on his way off of the ice last night:
Bonus question: Since you’re in Atlanta I know you’ll give us the truth. They really do food weird in St Louis, right?
We do! But it’s delicious. Don’t knock stuffed fried pasta until you try it, or gooey butter cake (which is a tiny square of diabetes with the density of lead). The bagel thing... I guess I get it, though I prefer mine whole, toasted, and with olive cream cheese. Go big or go home!
And Provel/STL pizza isn’t *that* bad. Turn Provel into some cheese sauce and put it on french fries, and I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.
Thanks a ton to @hildymac (follow her on Twitter!) for taking the time to help us with this. A couple other reasons I could see cheering on the Blues? Berube is a former Kamloops Blazer, though he wasn’t a superstar like a Jarome Iginla, Scott Neidermeyer or Mark Recchi. And a couple of my all time favorite bands, ANACRUSIS and CROSS EXAMINATION are from STL. So I hope we’ve given you some food for thought, though I think the whole slicing the bagels like bread thing is an unforgivable sin.