Sometimes, a team wins its all and then strips the parts off and starts over. They made it to the promised land and got their fill, so they sell off expensive pieces and try to do it again when your son is starting college. Basically 5-10 years later.
The St. Louis Blues want no part of that bullshit. They are still hungry, motivated, and have accepted the fact that dynasties are much cooler than one-hit wonders. In the greatest sense of Don Draper’s words, they basically want more happiness. A little summer slice won’t do for these boys.
Repeating as champions in any sport is hard ass work, but I think the spice has extra kick for a hockey team. Think about it. Strapping on the gear and being pushed around in a brutal sport that can resemble football on skates at times. Hockey players skate up for 66 more games than NFL grunts. While they only play 82 games in a season, opposed to the 162 game marathon in baseball, those teams get beat up for those 82 match-ups. It’s a relentless grind that technically rolls through three periods at a time, but includes many hurdles.
In a nutshell, the Blues are better equipped to hoist the Stanley Cup once again this summer due to the simple fact that they are deeper and more talented than any team resuming play next month.
Remember, they amassed 42 wins and 94 points mostly without the services of their best scorer in Vladimir Tarasenko. They have 12 guys with at least 20 points. 11 players with double-digit goal totals. David Perron and Brayden Schenn both have 25 goals, and Ryan O’Reilly leads the team with 61 points and 49 assists.
Captain Alex Pietrangelo has 16 goals and 52 points, firing 225 shots on goal. He’s getting more accurate with every blast. Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn provide ample offensive support at the blue line, but don’t sleep on the new guy in town, Marco Scandella. Acquiring him was like getting a younger version of Jay Bouwmeester, better knees and instincts included. He’s helped the Blues become a 200 foot threat every shift.
Speaking of Tarasenko, he was the X-factor even when he wasn’t putting on skates and firing pucks into nets. Doug Armstrong had to walk a fine line at the trade deadline due to the prognosis that had Tarasenko returning but with an unknown wavering in the wind due to the multiple procedures on the winger’s shoulder. He’s now well-rested, anxious, and will only empower a team that stood atop the Western Conference when their last game ended on March 11.
A healthy Tarasenko puts the Blues back in the Stanley Cup Final. If Boston is standing in the way, I think the Blues topple them again. Rested and stacked, I don’t think anyone gives the Blues too much of a hard time.
Look at the younger guys figuring things out. Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist are having great seasons, but Zach Sanford is starting to get tuned in. He has 16 goals, and they practically game out of nowhere. Just another late season contributor giving the team an extra boost.
Don’t sleep on the goaltending. Name a better tandem in the NHL. Too late, you’re out of time. Jake Allen is the best backup in town and Jordan Binnington can carry a team for a month if needed. He was starting to get hot in early March before play stopped. Allen gives him all the push he needs.
Craig Berube can actually-pay attention, past Blues coaches-make adjustments on the fly, ones that help his team. He’s tough as nails and knows how to motivate his team without running them into a wall. But he also understands they are men and need a shove on occasion. The best coaches know how to balance those two tendencies: push or hold back.
I also think this team knows something special is possible but that there’s a clock attached to it. No one knows for sure if Armstrong can retain Pietrangelo at the end of this team, so there’s a pressurized vice on this team’s future, post-2020. That can be the fire for a team with this nice balance of age and youthful firepower.
So tell me, who has a better chance to win it all again? I don’t see it.
Unless the Blues beat themselves, they could raise Lord Stanley again. For real. Believe in that like you do hand sanitizer right now.
Hockey could be back soon. We all need it. Another parade would be a nice ending and I think it’s very possible.