The wait is finally over. After 52 long years, the Blues are Stanley Cup champions for the first time in franchise history.
Behind 32 saves from Jordan Binnington and an all-around disciplined performance, St. Louis officially fulfilled its worst-to-first narrative with a 4–1 Game 7 win against the Bruins. After being dead last on Jan. 2, the Blues completed an incredible run that ends with them lifting a 34.5-pound chalice.
Going on the road following a Game 6 loss with your franchise’s first-ever championship on the line probably sounds like a nightmare on paper. But for this Blues team, it was the perfect scenario. With a rookie goaltender who has patented the bounce-back performance (now 14–2 in games following a loss) and a dazzling road record, St. Louis knew it needed to just stick to what got it this far and it would work.
It was all Blues in the opening minutes but the Bruins quickly found their legs, taking over and peppering a plethora of shots at Binnington. The Blues were suddenly turning the puck over like it was a game of hot potato, but Binnington stayed sharp. It didn’t take long for them to take a needless penalty, either, when Colton Parayko flipped the puck over the glass and was called for delay of game, but they killed it off and stayed out of the box for the rest of the night.
St. Louis went more than 16 minutes without a shot, but that didn’t matter. With just over three minutes left in the period, Sammy Blais brought the Blues’ notorious forecheck along the boards and moved the puck up to Jay Bouwmeester at the blue line. The veteran defenseman’s blast was redirected by Ryan O’Reilly, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, to open up scoring. Alex Pietrangelo decided to double up with eight seconds left in the period and St. Louis had a 2–0 lead on just four shots.
The Blues’ defense stole the show in the second period, shutting down Boston’s transition in the neutral zone and not letting the puck stay deep for too long. During the most crucial 20 minutes of his career in the third period, Binnington still didn’t seem fazed, even making an incredible save on Joakim Nordstrom midway through the final frame. Flat on his belly, the goalie made a sprawling save to keep it 2–0.
Shortly after that, Brayden Schenn made it 3–0 with a one-timer from his knee and TD Garden fell silent. New England native Zach Sanford added a fourth tally for good measure to score his first-ever playoff goal. Matt Grzelyck, who returned from a four-game absence due to injury, took away Binnington’s shutout with 2:10 left, but it was too little too late for the Bruins.
When Craig Berube took over as interim coach in November, there was a lot of speculation that Joel Quenneville could make his return to the Blues’ bench once this season was over. But that idea has long since been forgotten as it is a matter of days before the interim tag is removed for good for Berube. Almost 50 years ago, the Blues were on the losing side of hockey’s most iconic photo. Jump to 2019, St. Louis has finally avenged that day. And now “Gloria” shall play all summer long.