St. Louis Blues fans will forever remember June 12, 2019, as the date the franchise won its first Stanley Cup, the date it snapped the long-standing drought that had followed the organization since its inception during the NHL’s original round of expansion and the date the club finally etched its name into the record books. There will be t-shirts and trinkets and inevitably tattoos that commemorate the date of Wednesday’s history-making Game 7.
But it wasn’t the only date that was important to St. Louis’ Stanley Cup ascent. In fact, over the past campaign, which spanned 251 days, there were several significant moments for this Blues squad. At the time, some likely seemed inconsequential, but each of these dates will be worthy of their own chapter when the complete story of this St. Louis victory is written. So, from opening night on through to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, here are the 10 dates that had the most significance in the Blues’ run to the franchise’s first championship:
Nov. 19, 2019 – Los Angeles Kings (2), St. Louis Blues (0)
Less than one quarter of the season was in the books when the Blues hosted the Kings in mid-November, but already the outlook was bleak in St. Louis. Only one team in the entire NHL was lower in the standings than the Blues, who were in a three-way tie for 30th place. That team? Los Angeles. So, when the Blues, who had already lost three of their past four, were blanked by the Kings, it turned out to be the straw the broke the proverbial camel’s back. Mike Yeo was fired and in stepped interim coach Craig Berube.
Dec. 7, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (1), Winnipeg Jets (0)
Success didn't come easy with Berube at the helm, but in a rematch against the Jets, who had walloped the Blues 8-4 less than two weeks earlier in a contest in which Patrik Laine scored five goals, St. Louis showcased its new defensive rigidity. The Blues shut down all of the Jets’ top stars and Jake Allen pitched a 26-save shutout. Entering the game, St. Louis was 19th in the NHL in goals against. From Dec. 7 onward, however, the Blues ranked third. The victory over the Jets also helped spark the Blues to a run of six wins in nine games, a welcome reprieve after winning only three of their past dozen entering the early December tilt.
Jan. 7, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (3), Philadelphia Flyers (0)
Jordan Binnington’s run in the Blues’ crease didn't start on Jan. 7. In fact, he appeared in two games and allowed four goals against on 25 shots in 68 minutes of work in December. St. Louis gave him another shot on a second call-up to the big club in early January, though, and that’s when he caught fire. In his first career start, Binnington stopped all 25 shots he faced to blank the Flyers. One month later, he was sporting an 8-1-1 record with two shutouts and a .940 save percentage, and that's when rumblings were beginning that he was the real deal and a possible season savior.
Jan. 23, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (5), Anaheim Ducks (1)
Years from now, Blues fans will look back and search for the turning point in the campaign. What they will discover is that it came during the second game of a five-game road trip that began in late-January. Having started the trip with a loss to the Kings, the Blues skated into Anaheim and beat down the Ducks two days later. What followed was a surge that pulled St. Louis back from the brink and pushed them into playoff contention. By the time the winning streak was over, the Blues had won 11 consecutive games, six of which came against eventual post-season clubs.
Feb. 7, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (1), Tampa Bay Lightning (0)
In the midst of the 11-game winning streak came a monumental moment in the campaign. It was only one month earlier that the Blues were mired in last place in the NHL, but after rattling off wins against the Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers, St. Louis headed to Tampa Bay with the chance to sneak into the playoff picture. That’s exactly what the Blues did, too. St. Louis stymied the eventual Presidents’ Trophy winners on the strength of 32 saves by Binnington and Brayden Schenn delivered the overtime dagger with 59 seconds remaining in the extra frame.
March 16, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (5), Pittsburgh Penguins (1)
The Blues were marching up the standings throughout February and even made a brief entrance into the top three of the Central Division on Valentine’s Day. But the victory that saw St. Louis stake their claim to a divisional berth and never look back? March 16, when the Blues leapt two points ahead of the Dallas Stars. As with a number of St. Louis’ big wins, Binnington was impressive, stopping 40 shots in the victory. Vince Dunn’s two goal effort powered the offense, and four Blues had a pair of points.
April 18, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (3), Winnipeg Jets (2)
Through 40 minutes, the Jets looked to be on the verge of a 3-2 series lead. After losing the first two games of the series, Winnipeg took Games 3 and 4 on the road before getting out to a 2-0 lead in Game 5. The Jets’ Kevin Hayes narrowly missed putting Winnipeg up by three midway through the second, and once the third began, the game turned. The Blues began to take it to the Jets. Ryan O’Reilly got on the board early in the frame, Schenn tied the game with six minutes remaining and in the waning moments, an ill-advised attempt to kill the clock by Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba allowed St. Louis to recover the puck deep in the Jets’ zone. Tyler Bozak fired a puck towards the goal and Jaden Schwartz tipped it out of mid-air to net the winner with 15 seconds remaining. The Blues won the series in Game 6 on the strength of Schwartz’s natural hat trick.
May 7, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (2), Dallas Stars (1)
St. Louis was never closer to elimination, though, than they were in Game 7 of the second-round series against the Stars. Facing elimination in Game 6, the Blues pulled off a 4-1 victory, and Game 7 was almost stolen by Dallas’ Ben Bishop. The Stars netminder was outstanding, stopping 52 shots on the night, but after consistent pressure through the entire affair, the Blues finally cracked the netminder when Patrick Maroon knocked home a loose puck to send St. Louis through to the Western Conference final. It would have taken just one shot – or Jamie Benn’s wraparound attempt sliding inches in the other direction – for the Blues' run to come to an end. But St. Louis refused to break.
May 21, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (5), San Jose Sharks (1)
O’Reilly had been good for the Blues throughout the post-season, but no one would have classified his playoff performance as Conn Smythe Trophy-worthy. He had been the same defensive stalwart and reliable two-way pivot through much of the first three rounds, but the offense wasn’t there – not until O’Reilly took over in Game 6 of the conference final against the Sharks, that is. In what ended up being the series-deciding game, O’Reilly assisted on the game’s opening goal, the eventual game winner and the Blues’ fourth goal of the game, which was the dagger. He went on to amass five goals and 12 points across his final eight games.
June 3, 2019 – St. Louis Blues (4), Boston Bruins (2)
Who knows if the Blues even get the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup in seven games if they don’t stop the Bruins from taking a 3-1 series lead. The game prior, St. Louis was blown out 7-2 by Boston and the Blues had yet to really assert themselves in the series. They did just that in Game 4, however. O’Reilly scored to put the Blues ahead less than one minute into the outing, and after the teams traded goals and the Bruins tied it up with a shorthanded marker in the second, O’Reilly notched his second of the game midway through the third to put St. Louis ahead for good. It was an incredible effort, and one that set the stage for the eventual Stanley Cup victory nine days later.
Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.