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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.”

BLUENOTES

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.


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