Still waiting for that first Stanley Cup
Sunday, May 12, 2013
I’m a spoiled sports fan.
I’ve seen the St. Louis Cardinals win two World Series in my lifetime, win countless playoff series and remain a must-watch into September pretty much every year that I can remember.
I’d like to say I don’t take this for granted, but I probably do.
The big boss of the News Tribune sports department, Tom Rackers, hasn’t seen his Kansas City Royals reach the playoffs since 1985, the year they beat my beloved Cardinals in the World Series.
Most years, he has to root for a pretty crummy squad. I hope that changes this year, I really do. Still, I can’t imagine the Cardinals going through a 27-year postseason drought.
Like I said, I’m very spoiled.
I’ve been able to watch the St. Louis Rams win a Super Bowl and put together one of the best three-year stretches in NFL history. Holy cow, do I ever miss that Greatest Show on Turf now.
So I’ve seen my teams win three championships in my 25 years of existence. I’d bet most people can’t say they’ve seen their favorite teams win that many titles in their entire lifetime.
So, yes, I’m very spoiled.
But for the love of God, can the St. Louis Blues just win ONE Stanley Cup? Please?
I’ve been a diehard Blues fan my entire life, all the way back to when my Dad would take me to watch games at the old St. Louis Arena. The Blues stopped playing there after the 1994 season, when I was six years old.
I’ve been around to witness the majority of The Streak, a string of 25 straight (fruitless) playoff appearances that started in 1980 and ended in 2005. For all of that, the Blues have nothing to show for it. Not even an appearance in the Stanley Cup.
St. Louis has only reached the Cup finals three times — 1968, 1969 and 1970. Back then, the Blues were part of the expansion conference, which automatically had a berth in the finals. St. Louis was swept all three times, twice by the Montreal Canadiens and once by the Boston Bruins. The iconic Bobby Orr photograph was captured on that Stanley Cup-winning goal against the Blues.
So the Blues don’t exactly have a rich playoff tradition.
And for at least one more season, that’s not changing.
The Blues blew a two games to none advantage to the Los Angeles Kings in their just-completed first-round playoff series, allowing the Kings to win four straight contests and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
For all the talk about how the young Blues had learned their lesson after getting swept by the Kings in last season’s conference semifinals, it was just that. Talk. No walk.
St. Louis squandered opportunity after opportunity. Too many forwards disappeared. I’m about as successful with Victoria’s Secret models as the Blues are at putting pucks in the net. Which is to say, an utter failure.
The list of Blues’ no-shows is long: David Backes, David Perron, Patrick Berglund, Andy McDonald, Chris Stewart, just to name a few.
It’s not a good sign when your fourth line — the CPR line of Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves — is your best forward line in the series. They were flying all over the ice, forechecking and making things happen.
Whereas Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick stood on his head and made every save the Kings needed, Blues goalie Brian Elliott wasn’t up to the task. Elliott was strong for the majority of the series. He just let in a couple soft goals and didn’t make the gigantic save when the Blues needed it most. And how he let in that game-winning goal with .2 seconds left in the second period Saturday night, I’ll never know.
That’s just a Blues sort of thing to do, though. It shouldn’t surprise me anymore.
The Blues are a playoff disappointment every season.
But please, just one Stanley Cup.
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