Anything but the Blues in St. Louis

When the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks meet during the regular season expectations for an exciting match-up are high. When the Blackhawks and Blues meet in the playoffs the anticipation for fireworks is off the charts.

Sharing a division since 1970, the Hawks Blues rivalry is the most intense as far as penalty minutes and fighting goes. The hatred between these two teams has simmered for decades perhaps reaching it’s peak during what is referred to as the Saint Patrick’s Day Massacre, a brutal match on March 17, 1991 where nearly 300 penalty minutes were handed out along with 22 games worth of suspensions.

Flash forward to this year and once again we see the rivals meeting and this time the stakes couldn’t be higher. The Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions while the Blues have suffered 3 consecutive first round ousters, one of which came at the Hawks’ hands.

While the Blues managed to shake off their demons and nab a 4-3 series win it was the fans that came out ahead in this series. The hockey played was nothing short of amazing.

Game 1 was the Brian Elliott show as the Blues’ netminder stymied the Hawks for his first playoff shut out. David Backes scored the only goal of the night at 9:04 into overtime. With a bad bounce off a Blackhawks defenseman the solitary goal gave the home team a thrilling victory.

Enter Game 2 where a late third period goal after a Coach’s Challenge chalked up a win for the Hawks. Joel Quenneville’s challenge negated a Blues goal and set both teams up for another tense ending.  Andrew Shaw stuffed home a rebound with 4:19 remaining to tie the series 1-1.
Game 3 saw the teams moved to Chicago where the Blues retook the series lead 2-1 after a bruising match that ended with a power play goal set up by a high sticking penalty on Chicago star, and potential MVP, Patrick Kane.

With Game 4 the Blues took a commanding 3-1 lead made possible by two powerful wrist-shots by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jaden Schwartz scored the tie-breaking goal on a power play in the third period.
Back in St. Louis for Game 5 the Patrick Kane’s backhander in the second overtime gave the Hawks another win and put the series at 3-2. It was Kane’s fist goal of the playoffs and provided a much-needed psychological boost for a team that needed to stage a major comeback to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

Game 6 gave Blues fans some serious anxiety as a recharged Hawks team bowled them over 6-3, forcing Game 7. With three goals, the second period of this game might have been the best Hawks period of the entire season.

Which brings it all to Game 7, a barn-burner that ended with forward Troy Brouwer’s brilliant second effort getting the puck into the net for a Blues win. According to Brouwer, it was “the ugliest goal I've ever scored and probably the timeliest goal I've ever scored.''

The Blues have little time to rest on their laurels as their second round series against the Dallas Stars begins on Friday but for St. Louis fans a win against their fiercest rival is not only sweet, it’s been a long time coming.