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Throwback Thursday Game Preview: April 16th, 1997: St. Louis Blues at Detroit Red Wings - Western Conference Quarterfinals: Game 1

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The Blues begin their quest for the 1997 Stanley Cup against a familiar foe.

We'll likely see some heated battles like this again. Bring it!
We'll likely see some heated battles like this again. Bring it!

Didn't we just see these guys? I feel like we just saw these guys, like, three days ago.

[In fact we had - the Blues beat the Wings in their last regular season game of 1997 just 3 days ealier by the score of 3-1. Although the Wings had nothing to play for, the Blues had an outside chance to move up to the 4 seed and get home ice in the first round. That didn't happen, as the Mighty Ducks finished 4th and the Coyotes won the tie-breaker to force the Blues into the 3-6 rematch with Detroit.

Oh, and by the way - for our Throwback Previews and the like, we'll be writing from the perspective of the time - as if they were SLGT posts that day. Anything written in italics - like this - is an aside, either to explain things out of character, to give some historical tidbits that wouldn't have been known at the time, or to just for your usual run-of-the-mill hack jokes. I encourage you guys to play along in the comments of these posts by sticking "in character" unless in italics...but this is also America, so I'm not your boss.]

 

Never mind that game. A win is nice, but does it matter any more? No. That Long December with the 1-6-2 stretch? Nope. Nick Kypreos taking out Fuhrer's knee? Last year, doesn't matter now.

Actually, let's talk about last year. In the 2nd round, the Blues streaked through games 3, 4, and 5 against the Wings to nab a 3-2 series lead. They even had a chance to knock out the Dead Things on home ice in game 6 and make the conference finals for the first time in 10 years. That didn't happen, setting up a game 7 at the Joe.

And I'm not talking about that game.

A lot has changed in the past year. "Iron" "Scrap Metal" Mike Keenan was sent packing, thank god. The Great One hated Mike so much he couldn't wait to take less money to play in Manhattan, presumably as that was the only way he could get tickets to see Rent. Hullie's still pissed about something, probably. And now we're lead by first time head coach Joel Quenneville, who makes up for his lack of experience with a very aggressive mustache game. Oh, and remember our old friend Brendan Shanahan? Yeah, he got shipped from the Hartford Whalers to Detroit. Mike Keenan - the gift that keeps on giving. [Hey, a Whalers mention!]

One thing hasn't changed though - neither the Blues nor the Wings have won the Cup in the Expansion Era. So both teams are looking to prove they can compete with the big boys. [...sigh...those were the days, weren't they?]

 

1996-97 ST. LOUIS BLUES SEASON REVIEW:

  • 36-35-11; 83 points - 6th seed in Western Conference (4th in central)
  • 236 goals scored, 239 goals allowed
  • Power play: 15.3% (16th in league)
  • Penalty Kill: 83.4% (15th in league)
  • Head coach: Joel Quenneville (1st year, 18-15-7)
  • Captain: none [After striping Hull of the captaincy the year before, Keenan couldn't give it back, could he? So after Gretzky left, the captaincy was left open until Quenneville would give the 'C' to Chris Pronger that summer.]
  • Leading scorer: Brett Hull (42 goals, 40 assists, 82 points in 77 games)
  • +/- leader: Chris Pronger (+15) [Hey, we all would've thought that meant a lot back then, right?]
  • Starting goalie: Grant Fuhr (73 games played, 33-27-11, .901 sv%, 2.72 GAA)

BLUES PLAYOFF ROSTER:

Marc Bergevin, defenseman

Jim Campbell, right winger

Craig Conroy, center

Geoff Courtnall, left winger

Pavol Demitra, right winger

Brett Hull, right winger

Igor Kravchuk, defenseman

Stephen Leach, right winger

Al MacInnis, defenseman

Craig MacTavish, center

Stephane Matteau, left winger

Chris McAlpine, defenseman

Sergio Momesso, left winger

Joe Murphy, right winger

Scott Pellerin, left winger

Mike Peluso, right winger

Ricard Persson, defenseman

Robert Petrovicky, center

Chris Pronger, defenseman

Pierre Turgeon, center

Tony Twist, left winger

Harry York, center

 

Grant Fuhr, goalie

Jon Casey, goalie

 

 

1996-97 DETROIT RED WINGS SEASON REVIEW:

  • 38-26-18; 94 points - 3rd seed in Western Conference (2nd in central division)
  • 253 goals scored, 197 goals allowed
  • Power play: 17.9% (7th in league)
  • Penalty kill: 86.7% (4th in league)
  • Head coach: Scotty Bowman (25th year, 951-460-263)
  • Catpain: Steve Yzerman (22 goal, 63 assists, 85 points in 81 games)
  • Leading scorer: Brendan Shanahan (46 goals, 41 assists, 87 points in 79 games)
  • +/- leader: Vladimir Konstantinov (+38)
  • Goalies: Chris Osgood (47 games, 23-13-9, .910 sv%, 2.30 GAA); Mike Vernon (33 games, 13-11-8, .899 sv%, 2.43 GAA) The veteran Mike Vernon will likely get the nod in the playoffs.

RED WINGS PLAYOFF ROSTER:

Doug Brown, left winger

Kris Draper, center

Sergei Federov, center

Viacheslav Fetisov, defenseman

Tomas Holmstrom, left winger

Joe Kocur, right winger

Vladimir Konstantinov, defenseman

Vyacheslav Kozlov, center

Martin Lapointe, right winger

Igor Larionov, center

Nicklas Lidstrom, defenseman

Kirk Maltby, left winger

Darren McCarty, right winger

Larry Murphy, defenseman

Jamie Pushor, defenseman

Bob Rouse, defenseman

Tomas Sandstrom, right winger

Brendan Shanahan, left winger

Tim Taylor, center [You're kidding me, right? Detroit native Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor played for the 1997 Red Wings? I don't remember that season of Home Improvement.]

Aaron Ward, defenseman

Steve Yzerman, center

 

It's been a pretty average season - but it doesn't have to be an average postseason! Check back tonight for the GDT just before the puck drops!

[We'll be streaming the game on NHL Gamecenter at 7:00 pm central time tonight. If you don't have Gamecenter, we may...have some "alternative sources" In the game day thread, if you catch me.]

Let's go Blues! And you know what? ...

...

...

...

...fuck Detroit.

 

EDIT: All stats and roster information courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com.