This was supposed to be the season for the St. Louis Blues – the core had ripened, star goalie Ryan Miller was brought in at the deadline and even young sniper Vladimir Tarasenko came back in time from injury to give the team a different dimension.
But we all know what happened. The Blues faltered down the stretch, allowing Colorado to pass them for first in the Central Division and handing St. Louis the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. On Sunday afternoon, those Hawks dusted the Blues 5-1, making "Chelsea Dagger" Miller's least-favorite song and sending St. Louis back to the Show-Me State for the summer.
So the Blues lost the series 4-2. But they still managed to be winners when it came to exit interviews. Here's Miller when asked what lay ahead for the free agent netminder:
"I don't know. I guess I'm free to go to my sister-in-law's wedding. That's about it."
(via Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, @jprutherford)
Then there was captain David Backes, who was revealed to have been playing with a broken toe in the series and was not happy to be doing his last post-game scrums of the season:
"No offense to you guys, but these interviews are getting a little sickening to have in April and not in June."
(via NHL.com's Lou Korac, @lkorac10)
Finally, there was Steve Ott, who talks as well off the ice as he does on it – though he's much more congenial with reporters than he is with the opponents he is so good at agitating. Ott came over from Buffalo with Miller in the big deadline swap and the Blues valued the forward's playoff experience and leadership:
"It's a numb feeling... When you expect to win a Cup, let's be honest, that's what was expected... didn't get the job done."
(via ESPN's Craig Custance, @CraigCustance)
It will be a long summer in St. Louis, thinking about what might have been. And really, other than the power play going south and Miller be the second-best goalie in the series, what is there to change? It's still a very good team on paper. But that's cold comfort for the men that wore the Note this year.