The St. Louis Blues are (1-2-0) in their Western Conference Final series against the San Jose Sharks and (9-8-0) in the playoffs overall. Tonight they’ll fight to tie the series and prevent the Sharks from taking a 3-1 series lead.
If they can find a way to do that and really get back in contention for winning the Western Conference, they’ll have a much better shot at winning the Stanley Cup. That would, inevitably, change the very make-up of Blues hockey.
Getting the Monkey Off Their Back
St. Louis has never been home to a Stanley Cup Champion team. They’ve never raised a banner that highlighted the greatest accomplishment in the NHL. They’ve yet to experience the pure joy and pride in a day with the Cup.
That’s something every player in the league hopes to achieve and is something the Blues are only a few wins shy of. Winning would change everything in the Gateway City. Winning would change the way the league views a team that has been plagued in the playoffs for its entire existence.
The Blues are also a team that is involved in one of the greatest rivalries in the NHL. Their relatively close proximity to Chicago and the fact that they battle each other in the Central Division only makes their hatred stronger.
Thus far, however, the Hawks have won the rivalry in the grand scheme of things. They’ve become the closest thing to a dynasty in modern hockey and their three championships since 2010 are beyond impressive.
The Blues are fighting for bragging rights so the Hawks and their fans can finally stop pointing out their lack of a championship. That would allow for the new rivalry debate to be which of the two reigning champions is better.
Draw for Free Agency
Professional hockey is a business first and foremost. The goal is to be profitable and winning is the best-proven way to do so. The Blues could use a championship as a draw for the best free agents this summer to sign in St. Louis because they would have proof of their success.
They could entice desired players to sign for slightly less money than elsewhere because they would be aiming for a second championship in the next few years. That, however, only works if they win this year.
It also makes the question mark of David Backes less significant. If St. Louis wins, they’ll most likely have a greater shot at younger, more elite free agents. That could leave Backes in the dust searching for a new sweater to wear come puck drop this fall.
On the other hand, if they pursue a new contract with No. 42 after winning, he might take a price cut to stay with the team that drafted him 62nd overall back in 2003.
With all of the uncertainty in the playoffs, there’s no telling what could happen tonight or in the rest of the Western Conference Finals. It’s important to remember how far St. Louis has come.
The Blues finally made it out of the first two rounds of the postseason with wins over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks and the Central Division Champion Dallas Stars.
The St. Louis Blues could have an opportunity to take out another Western Conference contender if they can find a way to tie the series up tonight. It could be just what they need to win the first Cup in franchise history.