Louis Meyer, Sports Editor
It seems like something out of a book or a movie. Last place in the standings, all hope, if any, slowly fading away. Talented players not performing, even seeming lost at times. Then, out of nowhere, there is a spark, a deciding moment. The team, its players and fans rally around this spark. Suddenly that spark becomes a fire. The players come together to form an unstoppable force; no team can stop them. The team rises through the standings and in the end, capture the coveted championship. Call it a Cinderella story.
While the St. Louis Blues still have a way to go if they want to hoist the Stanley Cup in June, they are on the right track. They are currently in third place in their division and are only 12 points out of first place. 12 points may seem like a lot, but not when you consider how far the team has come in a such a short period of time.
As 2018 came to a close, the Blues were dead last in not only the Western Conference, but the entire National Hockey League. Star player Vladimir Tarasenko looked like a shell of his former self, while goalie Jake Allen could not keep the puck from going in the net. Faith in the team was falling rapidly, with fans demanding certain players be traded. Then we entered 2019, and with the new year, brought a new Blues team.
In 2019, the Blues are 14-4-1, including an 8-game winning streak. Some of the more impressive wins include beating the Montreal Canadiens, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals twice, and the Nashville Predators twice. The win over Tampa Bay was especially impressive as the Blues shutout the Lightning, which were the NHL’s highest scoring team going into the game.
Three players have been key to the Blues recent surge. Goalie Jordan Binnington, center Ryan O’Reilly and right winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Since being promoted to the active roster, Binnington has posted a record of 11-1-1, to go along with three shutouts and a save percentage of .931. In the 19 games played so far in 2019, Ryan O’Reilly has 22 points, including six goals and 16 assists. In those same games, Vladimir Tarasenko has an impressive 13 goals, including a hat trick in the Blues overtime victory in Nashville. The hat trick was the fourth of Tarasenko’s career, and the goals also put him at 200 for his career. He is just the eighth Blues player to reach the 200-goal mark.
While these three players have been key to the Blues surge in 2019, it is not without saying that it has been a team effort. As a unit, the Blues are playing better hockey. They are hustling, getting their rebounds, putting them back on net, and getting in front of the net to get the “dirty goals.” While individually, these are all little things, together they are the difference maker. If the Blues want to complete their own Cinderella story, then they only need to continue doing the “little things.”