The St. Louis Blues are one game away from making their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1970 after routing the San Jose Sharks 5-0 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
The victory gives the Blues a 3-2 series lead, with Game 6 taking place in St. Louis on Tuesday night.
Schwartz Nets Another Playoff Hat Trick
Jaden Schwartz led the way for the Blues, scoring a hat trick that included two third period goals that helped put the game out of reach.
“It’s something that everyone’s worked for and dreamed about,” Schwartz told reporters after the game. “You don’t want to look too far ahead. We all know how important and how hard that last win’s going to be. It would be a dream come true.”
It’s now been 49 years since the Blues have made it to a Stanley Cup Final. Their only previous appearances came in the first three years of the Western Conference, which at the time was made up entirely of expansion teams. In each of those three seasons, St. Louis would go on to get swept in the final by more established teams from the Eastern Conference.
The last of those losses came to the Boston Bruins – the same team that the Blues would face in the Final this year.
Blues Success Comes After Disastrous Start
Remarkably, the success comes in a season that looked as though it was all but over on January. Just after New Year’s, the Blues had the worst record in the NHL, and it appeared as though the franchise might look to rebuild through a fire sale.
Instead, the team caught fire under new coach Craig Berube, who had been brought in to replace Mike Yeo in November. A switch in goal helped as well, as rookie goalie Jordan Binnington has been a key cog in the St. Louis run, coming up big again in Game 5 by making 21 saves to record a shutout.
Of course, the series is far from over, and the Sharks need only win on Tuesday to bring the series back to San Jose for a decisive Game 7 on Thursday. The Sharks have benefited from more than a little luck already this postseason, and coach Peter DeBoer says two previous seven-game series have given his team the mental toughness they’ll need to come from behind.
“We’ve been here before,” DeBoer told reportres. “Had to go on the road and win in Vegas in order to get to a Game 7. You’re never comfortable when your back is against the wall like that, but we have been here before and found a way and I’m confident we can do that again.”
The Blues are now a solid favorite to win the series, however, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing St. Louis at -380 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Overall, the Bruins are a clear favorite to win the Cup, with FanDuel giving Boston -165 odds ahead of both St. Louis (+200) and the Sharks (+600).