Some members of the Blues have waited what seems like forever to get to the Stanley Cup finals. Jay Bouwmeester has played 1,184 regular-season games, plus another 68 in the postseason. Alexander Steen has played 963 in the regular season, 80 in the postseason.
Sammy Blais has played 43.
Blais made the trip back and forth from St. Louis to San Antonio so many times it was dubbed the Sammy Blais Shuttle. He was sent down to the AHL on six separate occasions this season, following the five trips he made last season. (The only Blue to have played in the postseason with less regular-season experience is, of course, goalie Jordan Binnington.)
But Blais was with the team at the end, and his hard-hitting style – he averaged six hits per game, the third-most in the postseason and his 2.9 hits per game in the regular season were more than any Blue who played more than 10 games – was essential to the team’s forecheck, which got them the puck back and helped the Blues’ possession game. He has the second-best plus-minus among rookies in the postseason at plus-5.
“It was a hard year, going back and forth, but every time I had the chance to play here, I just give everything I have,” Blais said. “I love this team so much and I’m really happy to be here.”
Blais made a major contribution in Game 6 when his shot was tipped in by David Perron for a goal 1:32 into the game, giving the Blues the quick start they were looking for. The team that scored first won every game in the series.
“We needed a big start,” Blais said, “and I think every line was really good tonight and that first goal was huge and two goals on the PP, that was huge too.”
Blais hadn’t played for more than six weeks – since he got hurt on March 12 – when coach Craig Berube made the surprising decision to put him in the lineup in place of Robby Fabbri for Game 6 of the Dallas series in the second round. After that, his aggressiveness on the forecheck kept him his spot. The Sharks thought one of the turning points in the series was in Game 3, when Blais hit Justin Braun. The Sharks felt there should have been a suspension, but there wasn’t one, and they felt that after that hit went unpunished, the Blues were emboldened to launch an all-out attack.
“I just try to do my job out there and not think too much,” Blais said. “I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been back in the lineup. My linemates helped me a lot out there and I think we’re doing a good job of being resilient. I think we’re going to try to keep doing that in the Stanley Cup final.
“Everyone dreams of getting to the Stanley Cup final, but the biggest dream is to win it. We have a lot still to do.”
NOT DONE YET
As Brayden Schenn stood in the hallway outside the Blues dressing room late Tuesday night talking to a couple reporters, owner Tom Stillman came past, interrupting the interview to give him a celebratory hug. “Four more to go,” Schenn told him.
After Stillman moved on, looking for more players to hug, Schenn reflected on what the win meant to the Blues, their alumni and their fans.
“When you come off the ice, you see Brett Hull shaking your hand, Kelly Chase, Bobby Plager,” Schenn said. “The owner coming up and hugging guys. It means so much to the city and the organization and to each other in the locker room. We’ve got to regroup and refocus and get ready for Boston.”
With 13 points in the playoffs, Alex Pietrangelo is third among defensemen, behind Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson of San Jose, who both had 16. … Oskar Sundqvist leads the Blues in plus-minus at plus-7. … In case you have tickets for Game 4 or Game 6, which would be at Enterprise Center, only two teams in NHL history, the 1988 Oilers and the 2007 Ducks, have closed out all four postseason series with wins at home. The Blues finished off Winnipeg in six, Dallas in seven and San Jose in six, all at home. … While the Blues ended their 49-year drought of not going to the Stanley Cup finals, they were still better off than Toronto, which last went to the finals in 1967.
10 times St. Louis and Boston have played for the title
1946 World Series
This is one of the classic Fall Classic games. In the top of the eighth of Game 7, Boston's Dom DiMaggio tied the game with a two-run double. But in the bottom of the eighth, Cardinals outfielder Enos Slaughter just kept running. Harry Walker hit a ball to the outfield and Slaughter, on first, dashed to second … and third … and through the stop sign to home. He was safe, Red Sox infielder Johnny Pesky became somewhat of a goat (for hesitating on the relay throw home) and the Cardinals won 4-3.
1957 NBA Finals
The Celtics prevailed 125-123 in what is still the only Game 7 in NBA history to reach double overtime.
With the Hawks down by two with one second left in the second overtime, coach Alex Hannum, forced into playing after four of his players fouled out, launched a miraculous full-court pass off the backboard to Bob Pettit, who missed the tip in at the buzzer.
Bill Russell, who the Hawks drafted a year earlier then traded, led the Celtics with 32 points. It was the start of a Celtics dynasty in which they captured nine of the next 10 titles, interrupted only by the Hawks the following year.
1958 NBA Finals
The Hawks won a critical Game 5 at Boston to take a 3-2 series lead and come back to St. Louis with a chance to clinch. With 10,218 excited hoop heads at Kiel, Pettit produced an extraordinary performance.
Although he was being double- and triple-teamed, the 6-foot-9 Pettit drained shot after shot, keeping the Hawks solvent. With a little more than 20 seconds to play, Pettit drove the lane, stopped and scored over the outstretched hand of Bill Russell, giving the Hawks a 108-105 lead.
Two Tom Heinsohn free throws made it a one-point game and the Celtics swarmed the Hawks to get the ball back. Sure enough, Slater Martin fired a shot off the mark, but Pettit fought his way to the basket and tapped in the rebound, rendering a final Boston basket irrelevant.
Pettit finished with 50 points, including 18 of his team's final 21, as the Hawks defeated the Celtics 110-109 and captured the NBA title.
1960 NBA Finals
Meeting in their third finals in four years, the Celtics and Hawks were bitter rivals. But the Celtics' depth was too much for St. Louis, who were without quick guard Slater Martin, injured in the previous series. Bill Russell led the Celtics in a 122-103 Game 7 win with 22 points and 35 rebounds.
1961 NBA Finals
Celtics center Bill Russell was everywhere as the Hawks dropped the series four games to one.
In the final game, he had 30 points and 38 rebounds - as many as all five Hawks starters combined.
Hawks coach Phil Seymour said, "When the Celtics get around to splitting up their $43,000 prize money they ought to vote Russell three shares."
1967 World Series
Boston's “impossible dream” died in Game 7 at Fenway, when Bob Gibson outdueled Jim Lonborg, famously pitching on two-days rest and the Cardinals won 7-2. Lou Brock set a World Series record with seven stolen bases, including two in Game 7. After 1967 and 1946, it seemed like Boston was forever cursed against the Cardinals in the World Series.
1970 Stanley Cup Finals
In the final for the third consecutive year, the Blues are outscored 16-4 by Boston in the first three games. The Note puts up a fight during Game 4 in Boston, taking a 3-2 lead in the third period. But the Bruins tie it and 40 seconds into overtime Bobby Orr scores on Glenn Hall to end the series. Frustrated Noel Picard pitchforks Orr through the air for one of hockey’s iconic snapshots.
2002 Super Bowl
The St. Louis team was again there for the start of a Boston dynasty. Tom Brady, 24, started the season as a backup and Bill Belichick had more losing seasons than winning. 'The Greatest Show on Turf' racked up yards, but only managed 3 first-half points. The Rams tied it late, but Adam Vinatieri’s final-play field goal gave the Patriots a win.
2004 World Series
Manny Ramirez and the Sox, fresh off a comeback from a three games to none deficit in the ALCS, were too much for the Cardinals. Boston's pitchers limited the Cardinals to three runs over the series' final three games, and Ramirez hit .412 as the Red Sox powered their way to a sweep that ended an 86-year curse.
2013 World Series
The Red Sox win in Game 6 clinched a World Series at Fenway for the first time since 1918.
The series was marked by a couple of bizarre plays. In Game 3, Allen Craig scored the winning run when umpires ruled Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks interfered with him on an overthrow.
Game 4 ended when pinch-runner Kolten Wong was picked off first base, the only World Series game ever to end with a pickoff.