On Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues, who are appearing in their fourth Stanley Cup Final, did something they’ve never done before: they won a game in the Final.
When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967, St. Louis, along with the five other new teams, played in their own division (the West), while Boston and the other members of the Original Six, were in another (the East). This was done to balance competition…at least for the regular season and first few rounds of the playoffs.
The Blues made the playoffs in their first three years, but got swept by the Montreal Canadians in the first two trips and then the Bruins in 1970.
This is how it ended…
Yep. Bobby Orr’s Cup-clinching goal in overtime, a classic moment in both the Bruins and the NHL’s history.
The moment began a 49-year drought for the Blues.
Carl Gunnarsson’s goal in overtime to win Game 2 Wednesday night was more than just one that evens the series with it shifting to St. Louis for Game 3 Saturday night. For Blues fan old enough to remember those first three Stanley Cup Final appearances, it’s just as big for them as it is for fans born well after 1970.
The way the league was set-up the first couple of years after expansion DID favor the Original Six, but that mood changed when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975.
Somebody had to win the old West Division and play Montreal and Boston, and St. Louis was that team that was ultimately sacrificed.
In 2019, the power of balance is much better and the Blues finally have a fighting chance to not just win a game, which they’ve done, but actually win the Stanley Cup.
The city of St. Louis should be rocking on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure they’ll play “Gloria” once or twice before puck drop.