Let's let that sink in a bit.
Third round, the Western Conference Finals.
The last time this happened was in 2001, and they got beaten by the Colorado Avalanche. 2001. Jesus, I was 12 years old and still used the phrase "fudging" instead of "fucking" for fear I would get caught by my mother and grounded from the computer, which was the worst. 15 years have now past and I have said fuck, fucking and several variations of shit in front of my mother now. We cool. As I have grown so it seems have the Blues.
This year has been one of growth for the Blues, not just because of their playoff success but because the mentality that we the fans have been dying to see for so long from this group finally blossomed. They have appeared much more mentally sound in their play, hell they slew their metaphorical dragon in the Chicago Blackhawks in round one. They proved their game could work against Dallas in the second round. Not once this post season have I felt like the Blues were defeated mentally. Not once did I feel in my gut that this team was caught in their heads and were left beaten when the score, penalties, or whatever didn't go their way. Who is this team and what have they done with the shell shocked lot I saw last season??
With all that said, I am quite honestly just happy to be in the playoffs in May. Every game is like a bonus hit of the hockey addiction that is my life. I'm happy that my future husband is now worried that he will have to maintain his playoff beard during our wedding come June 6th.
I'm not worried, I am just too damn glad.
I have no expectations for this team any more. I made a promise to myself after last year that I was not going to let one bad game, one bad goal get to me and make me believe it was the end times. Has it always been that way? Oh, fuck no. Habits and expectations are hard to break. But what has worked is taking it one game at a time and not letting disappointment and a sense of disgust leach into what makes being a fan of this team great.
I've written in the past about how I thank every day for the St. Louis Blues. How they got me through some very dark and difficult times. I'm happy I am still here on this planet to see this team finally gel and play their damn game for a full 60 minutes. Fifteen years ago they gave me hope and a way to express pent up emotions that I, to this day, struggle with. Fifteen years ago seems like such a short distance when you are dealing with trauma but damn it puts things in an intense perspective of how long it actually is when you can physically see the stack of hockey statistics on top of one another.
In 2001 the Blues changed my life forever. The first smell of the arena's ice and the chance to scream out every bad thing and give me an outlet from reality. Fast forward and the Blues are also in a much better place. They aren't talking big talks and they certainly are not diminishing or putting down their opponents. They are playing an opponent at a time. A game at a time. Hell even a shift at a time.
If the Blues exit this round and the Sharks advance, in no way does that diminish the accomplishments they made this year. I can look at this season and feel a sense of pride still. Sure, no Cup, but they gave us one hell of a run, something they have not done in the past. They have finally gotten out of their own way. This year could really be THE year.
When the Blues take the ice tonight I will be cheering them on with the rest of you. I don't know the results but damn it feels so good to be here. Let's all just take it one shift, one period, and one game at a time. Be happy to be here, enjoy the moment because we all deserve it. Hitch has said publicly this is more about hockey at this stage in the game, this is about the city of St. Louis and its fans.
He is absolutely right.
This season is for those that have been sitting in the stands since 1967. This is for a city, my city, who deserves to be more thsn just the underdog or the downtrodden for once. This is for the people that the Rams not only left behind but shit on and threw garbage at on their way to Los Angeles. This is for those like me who found an island of peace in the old barn, Kiel Center, or the Scottrade every few weeks. This is for all of us, not just the players or the coaches or the mascot.
This isn't 2001 anymore. It's 2016 and I'm just God damn fucking happy to be in this with my team.
Let's go Blues!!