The St. Louis Blues’ season has been tumultuous, to say the least, although they have found their groove in the second half and have all but clinched a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Though there are plenty of lowlights throughout the season, there were some very memorable moments as well. Let’s take a look at five of the best memories from 2018-19.
5) Parayko’s OT Winner – Nov. 30, 2018
When the Blues replaced their head coach on Nov. 19, it seemed that their season might already be irreparably damaged. It didn’t help that in Craig Berube’s first game at the helm, they took another thrashing, a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Nashville Predators.
Things still seemed bleak when the team took on the Colorado Avalanche ten days after Berube’s arrival. Though the Blues jumped out to a two-goal league, the Avalanche’s tying goal in the third period seemed like a familiar story, one that would end badly yet again. But the Blues knuckled down, controlled much of the third period, and brought the game to overtime.
That’s when Colton Parayko took over. 90 seconds into the overtime frame, he escaped the defensive zone, but with Samuel Girard blocking his path, it didn’t seem like much of an opportunity. That is, until Parayko single-handedly maneuvered around Girard and, with one hand on his stick, forced a goal past Semyon Varlamov for the game winner.
The goal was an impressive highlight for Parayko’s resume, but over the course of the season, it meant much more: it felt like the Blues had finally found something to build on. It was not the start of their turnaround, but it was still a memorable moment from 2018-19.
4) Barbashev and Schwartz Go Back-to-Back – Mar. 19, Mar. 21
What’s more fun than one hat trick? Two hat tricks! That’s what the Blues accomplished in back-to-back games last week. First, Jaden Schwartz, who has struggled to find his form this season, netted three in a 7-2 blowout of the Edmonton Oilers. The hat trick brought his season total into double digits, and relieved the pressure on him from some fans.
Two nights later, the Blues played host to the Detroit Red Wings. With his family in the building for the first night all season, under-appreciated fourth liner Ivan Barbashev scored three impressive goals to collect his first career hat trick. The Blues had long since changed their fortunes, but at the time, they’d struggled to find secondary scoring, and it was a joy for fans to see two fresh faces do the scoring in a big way.
3) Two Goals, 11 Seconds – Mar. 6 vs. the Ducks
When the Blues met the Anaheim Ducks on Mar. 6, they were finally in a playoff spot. But with two losses coming into the game, tensions were high, and with the team trailing the Ducks with little more than a minute left, it seemed that they were once again headed in the wrong direction.
Then, in just 12 seconds, everything changed. With 64 seconds left, rookie Robert Thomas took a pass off the end boards and scored an equalizer. Immediately afterward, captain Alex Pietrangelo fired a seeing-eye shot from the point that found twine and gave the Blues the lead. It was the most last-minute turnaround the team
2) Binnington’s Flawless Debut – Jan. 7
Part of the team’s struggle in the first half of the season was goaltending, as Jake Allen struggled with consistency and the Chad Johnson experiment behind him failed tremendously. Enter: Jordan Binnington. The rookie goalie who has saved the team’s season was called up on Dec. 10, when Johnson was waived, but he did not make his first NHL start until Jan. 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Few knew what Binnington would become when he first stepped into the crease, but he announced his arrival in the best way possible: by stopping every shot fired his direction. It was just a t
1) 11-Game Winning Streak – Jan. 23 to Feb. 19
To the surprise of no one, the Blues’ franchise record eleven-game winning streak is the number one moment from the season. There’s no shortage of highlights from the streak: a 1-0 defeat of the future Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, followed by a back-to-back vanquishing of their division rival, the Nashville Predators, is the best three-game stretch of the season by far. Ryan O’Reilly’s overtime winner in Toronto against the Maple Leafs also stands out.
There’s no question that the Blues would not be where they are without the streak. They probably would not be in a playoff spot, and they certainly wouldn’t be looked at as a potential playoff threat. It is the event that defines their entire season, and it deserves to top this list.
Here’s to More Memories
Of course, Blues fans have had plenty of memories in plenty of seasons. What they want now is the greatest memory of all: a Stanley Cup victory.
Only time will tell if this is the season for that, but whether or not it is, the 2018-19 season is certainly one that no fan will soon forget.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.