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The Rivalry with Chicago Will Never Be the Same Again

NHL: Washington Capitals at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This story first appeared on Page 5 (The Five Hole) of the Dec. 14, 2019 edition of the St. Louis Game Time paper, sold outside of every Blues home game. For more information or to subscribe, email gtbradlee@gmail.com

Welcome, Chicago fans, to Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Hope your journey down I-55 was a pleasant one. Gracious host that I am, I’ve prepared this handy stress-management meditation guide for when one of the gentlemen wearing white screws up tonight. Seeing as they’re in 14th place, that’s fairly likely.

First, tilt your head back in disgust. Inhale deeply. Close your eyes. Try to identify every sensation you are experiencing: Feel your fingertips. Feel the cold air of the rink on your cheeks. Allow your shoulders to roll back. Relax every muscle in your face, and let the wave of relaxation roll down your body, first into your neck, then into your chest, your abdomen, your legs, your toes.

Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream. Surrender to the void.

Open your eyes slowly — one eyelash at a time. Remain calm as you begin to regain awareness of where you are and why you’re there. Now, let your eyes fall on the bright white piece of cloth above you. It is shining. It is shining.

Allow your brain to reactivate as your eyes pass over the letters. The S. The T. The ANLEY. You are feeling calm.

Acknowledge the instinct for your face to tighten and your fists to clench as your eyes move to the right and see three more letters, C-U-P. Resist that instinct. Continue to resist it as you see the next nine letters. Feel better? Thought so.

Five thoughts while listening to the colors of a dream.

1. Name a more satisfying regular season win than last Monday’s, I dare you. (If I recall correctly, they had lost something like 20 straight games in the state of California during the mid-2000s. Whichever win broke that streak might be up there, as is the playoff-clinching win over Columbus in 2009. That’s about it, as far as I’m concerned.)

The Blues won 4-0 in Chicago. Jake Allen pitched a shutout. Before the game, former underground paper publisher Sam Fels wrote on his website, Faxes from Uncle Dale, “So the Blues will show up for the first time this season tonight, with their unfathomable champions pedigree and their first place standing now and the added arrogance not just of having done all that, but of having done it when no one ever thought they could. These aren’t the Blues you remember, and it’s likely they will never be again. We’ve lost something. They’ve gained something, and that is truly world-shattering.”

2. Chicago was trailing 2-0 early in the third period and made a bit of a push in the offensive zone. The crowd began to cheer. Then (appropriately, just as Brandon Sad [sic.] then slammed his stick against the board in frustration), Darren Pang twisted the knife: “Finally a little energy in the building here,” he said. “It has been quiet, almost the atmosphere of a preseason game for the first two periods.” So much for the Madhouse on Madison.

3. More schadenfreude. We all heard about Jon Toes’s [sic.] salty “I’m not ready to give them as much credit as everyone else was this year” quote over the summer, but we know that he meant the Blues were supposed to be Cup contenders from Day 1, so their miraculous turnaround wasn’t quite as miraculous as most thought. Fair enough. But let’s not overlook the gloriously bitter “There was no part of me that was happy, let’s make that clear” that preceded.

Then, from Mark Lazerus’s Dec. 2 story at The Athletic, Costello chimed in. “Even watching them last year in the finals, it seemed like they were going to get dominated in that series after Game 1,” Patrick Kane said, and you can almost smell the rising hope. “Then they came back and were able to win it,” he continued. Ah, the tears of unfathomable sadness.

4. For me, there were only two negatives during the run to the Cup: They didn’t get to win it at home, and they didn’t go through Chicago to do it. As for the latter, well, let’s go with this: The run of the Blues being steely, cold-blooded killers in playoffs started on April 25, 2016. Since the Blues won Game 7 that night, Chicago has won zero playoff games. The Blues have won 28.

5. The perfect image to summarize that reality? In Game 2 in 2014, Vladimir Tarasenko scored with 6.4 seconds left to force overtime. To my mind, it remains the loudest Kiel/Savvis/Scottrade/Enterprise has ever been. Corey Crawford, thoroughly defeated, skated back to his net, slumped his arms onto the crossbar, and put his head down.

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If you enjoyed this story — and even if you didn’t — you should check out my book, Ticketless: How Sneaking Into The Super Bowl And Everything Else (Almost) Held My Life Together.