It is easy to get caught up with the ceremony of tonight. The Blues are defending Stanley Cup Champions (God, that is still weird to type). They’re raising that championship banner tonight, and everyone in Enterprise Center will get to behold the freshly-engraved trophy.
It’s history, in more ways than one.
Yes, this is the first Cup in team history, but winning that Cup and the whole magical season that came before it is in the past. Now the hard part begins. Will the Blues be Stanley Cup Champions in 2020? Will it be some other surprise team? Will the (gasp) Toronto Maple Leafs make a push? All of that is in their own hands. We don’t know the future. If we did, most of us around here and at the paper (tip your vendor!) wouldn’t’ve been so pessimistic when the first half of the Blues’ season was such a dumpster fire last year.
We’ve gone from a sarcastic “plan the parade” to an actual “plan the parade.” The team can’t jump the gun with another “plan the parade” just yet. They have to win.
Most everyone’s back save for Pat Maroon and Joel Edmundson. Mackenzie MacEachern is making a start in Maroon’s spot tonight until Jordan Kyrou’s knee is healed. Justin Faulk will play alongside Alex Pietrangelo on the first defensive pairing. The Blues have four defensemen who are capable of drawing 20 minutes or more a night (Jay Bouwmeester and Colton Parayko). The back-end is fine.
Jordan Binnington is a question mark - probably the biggest one since we know what the offense is capable of and the defense is stacked. Maybe by January the Blues have two questions in goal. Maybe the 1A/1B tandem’ll work out.
The Capitals tonight are also what we expect. They added Radko Gudas on defense this off-season and Richard Panik up front. Tom Wilson still exists (he was last seen mixing it up with Edmundson during a pre-season game against the Canes). Brayden Holtby is still excellent.
And, of course, Alexander Ovechkin will shoot from the circles. That’s his spot. Please defend against him.
Can we tell where the future goes after one game? Nope. Can we tell after 41? Absolutely not.
Enjoy opening night, everyone. It’s good to be back.