If you’ve been watching hockey for long enough, you pick up on things. You can sense when a goal’s going to happen. You can tell when a team has it in them to overcome a three goal deficit, or when a team’s about to blow a three goal lead.
A year ago tonight, we were all watching the Blues lift the Stanley Cup. In every sense of the word, it was an unbelievable moment for many, because over 52 years, fans were conditioned to expect defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory. We literally couldn’t believe what we were seeing on our televisions or on the big screen at Enterprise Center or Busch Stadium.
But at some point during that game, it felt different. We’ve seen the Blues slip in must-win playoff games before, but those were all in earlier rounds, where the stakes were high - but not this high. We’d never seen the Blues compete in a game seven of a Stanley Cup Final. Many people, myself included, entered the game with zero expectations in either direction. The fact that the Blues were in this situation alone was something that we’d waited our whole lives for. If they faltered, the disappointment would’ve been real, but most fans would’ve been proud regardless.
The game began, and the Blues were out-shot, but they led and continued to do so. Maybe for some of you, the second goal of the game, scored by Alex Pietrangelo, was when you started to breathe:
Maybe it was the fourth goal, scored by Zach Sanford, that let you know that it was finally safe to breathe, because the Blues had breathing room with less than five minutes to go:
For me personally, it was this save - some might call it The Save - from Jordan Binnington that made something click in my head.
One year ago Blues fans pic.twitter.com/YJdjVUVjl9— x -/Dylan Carlson/Drew Lock Beast SZN/ trolI (@dylancarlsonfan) June 12, 2020
I had been nervous through most of the game because the Blues were so drastically being outshot by the Bruins (after the first two periods, the Bruins were outshooting the Blues 23-10). Many times, teams that are outshot by wide margins but who lead a game manage to find a way to let the opposition back into that game. If you take your foot off of the gas when you’re barely pressing on it, you roll to a stop. I was worried that the Blues would roll to a stop to start the third period. A two goal lead isn’t insurmountable.
Then Jordan Binnington made that save, and I started to breathe. That is the save of a goaltender who is seeing everything shot his way. That’s the save of a goalie that is keyed in. That’s the save of a goalie that was going to win a hockey game.
That’s the save that wins a team a Stanley Cup.
What happens if Joakim Nordstrom scores there? I don’t want to think about every possibility that could exist. That a Darkest Timeline is out there didn’t cross my mind then, and I’d rather not have it cross my mind now.
With 11:09 remaining in the third period, that’s when I knew.
When did you know?