hockey

St. Louis Blues advance to Stanley Cup Final with Game 6 win against Sharks

The St. Louis Blues advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970 with a 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final at Enterprise Center on Tuesday. St. Louis, which won the final three games of the best-of-7 series, will play the Boston Bruins in the Cup Final. Game 1 is at Boston on Monday. ladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn each scored a power-play goal, Ryan O’Reilly had three assists, and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for the Blues. “The final minutes, counting down there and how loud the rink was and the atmospehere was awesome,” Binnington said. “We’re excited and looking forward to the next round.” Dylan Gambrell scored, and Martin Jones made 14 saves for the Sharks, who were without defenseman Erik Karlsson and forwards Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski because of injury. “I was proud of our group tonight,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t think the score reflected the work that we put in. I know what the scoreboard said at the end of the night, but I felt we made them earn it tonight. I thought we showed up under tough circumstances. … That’s all you can ask.” Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 1:32 into the first period when he tipped a shot from Sammy Blais. Tarasenko made it 2-0 with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 16:16 of the first. He had at least one point in each game of the series (three goals, five assists). “Nobody wants to fly four more hours back to San Jose,” Tarasenko said. “We had a chance like this [to clinch in Game 6 of the first round against the Winnipeg Jets]. Everybody was preparing and ready to end it tonight.”

GO BLUES!!!!!!       🙂

NHL awards expansion franchise to Las Vegas

The National Hockey League’s 31st franchise will play in Las Vegas beginning in 2017, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday. On a 109-degree day in the Mojave Desert’s gambling mecca, the NHL’s Board of Governors awarded the team to billionaire businessman Bill Foley, who is expected to pay $500 million to the NHL’s other owners as an expansion fee. The new team will play in T-Mobile Arena, the $375 million building that opened just off the Las Vegas Strip in April. “We think this is a tremendously exciting opportunity, not just for Las Vegas, but for the league as well,” Bettman said, calling Las Vegas “a vibrant, growing, global destination city.” Bettman also announced that an expansion bid from Quebec City was “deferred” indefinitely, allowing Las Vegas to enter the league alone in the Pacific Division. The league’s alignment and playoff format won’t change. The NHL is expanding for the first time since 2000, when Minnesota and Columbus each paid $80 million to join the league. With nearly 2.2 million people in the last census, Las Vegas is the largest population center in the U.S. without a team in the major professional sports. Vegas was an economic boomtown in the previous decade, and the NHL is betting that its slowed growth hasn’t curbed the city’s appetite for sports and spectacles. “We want everyone to be a fan,” said Foley, who fell in love with pond hockey while growing up in Canada. “We’re dedicated to it. We’ll leave no stone unturned in our dedication, in our pursuit of hockey for Las Vegas, not just for our team, but for the community.” Bettman said the league made the move largely due to the persistence and strength of the ownership group led by Foley, a financial services tycoon, who has been working on the idea for three years. Foley is joined by minority partners Joe and Gavin Maloof, the former owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Foley’s also bid had the enormous advantage of an NHL-ready arena built with private funding and eager for a flagship tenant. Foley has already accepted more than 14,000 season ticket deposits and sold out all 44 suites in the 17,500-seat rink built by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Kings. “We won’t sell out every game with season-ticket holders, but I believe it’s going to be 85 percent, 90 percent (filled by season ticket holders),” Foley said. Along with a top-six pick in next year’s draft, the Vegas franchise will be stocked by a June 2017 expansion draft that will be more favorable than previous drafts, theoretically allowing Foley’s team to become competitive more quickly. Las Vegas will have four nearby rivals — at least by West Coast standards: the league’s three California teams and the Arizona Coyotes. Although ice doesn’t last long in the desert, Las Vegas has had an appetite for hockey since the Kings and New York Rangers played a memorable outdoor exhibition game here in 1991. The IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder sometimes drew more fans than UNLV’s beloved basketball team at the Thomas and Mack Arena in the 1990s, and the Minnesota Wild’s Jason Zucker leads a handful of locals who went on to hockey careers. The endurance of that appetite will depend on Foley’s ability to keep fans excited about the newest show in town, but the NHL seems confident it’s getting in early to a growing market. Foley announced plans to devote considerable resources to building community interest in youth hockey, including a two-rink team training complex that will be “open to all.” Sports leagues once rejected the city outright due to concerns about corruption from Vegas’ massive sports betting economy, but the NHL and the NFL no longer share those worries, with Bettman calling his sport “less susceptible” to gambling interests due to the small volume of bets placed on hockey. Foley realizes his team might not be alone in Vegas for long. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is interested in partnering with Vegas interests to build an enormous domed football stadium for his team. “I think the NFL would be great here,” Foley said. “They have a different fan base than we do. I don’t think it will affect us.” Foley hasn’t decided on a nickname or logo for his team, but an announcement could be made in the next few weeks. He has strongly considered the Black Knights, a name that has special meaning to Foley, a West Point graduate. “I love Black Knights,” Foley said. “I’m an Army guy, but maybe that’s not the right name for the team at this time. We’re going to work through the league.”

Brouwer puts St. Louis Blues over top, eliminates Blackhawks

The St. Louis Blues acquired Troy Brouwer for moments like this, dealing fan favorite T.J. Oshie to Washington for some badly needed veteran presence. The 30-year-old forward showed plenty of poise when his first shot clanked off the post midway through the third period. The second effort off the backhand produced the goal that put a long-frustrated franchise over the top against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Brouwer described the go-ahead score in the third period of a 3-2 Game 7 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night as “the ugliest goal I’ve ever scored and probably the timeliest goal I’ve ever scored.” “I just tried to stay with it, knowing the magnitude of the game, knowing how everything’s been going,” Brouwer added. Brouwer played for the Blackhawks’ Cup winner in 2010 and this was his seventh career Game 7. The goal at 8:31 was his first in 24 postseason games since 2013 and was the difference in a tense series that was either tied or a one-goal game 91 percent of the time, according to NHL.com. Chicago just missed a chance to tie it when Brent Seabrook’s shot went off both posts with about 3:30 left. Coach Joel Quenneville came close to challenging the play. “We had a sniff there,” Quenneville said. “We didn’t get the positive feedback from the headset. It was close.” It is the first time the Blues advanced past the first round since 2012, when they beat San Jose in five games but then lost four straight to Los Angeles. St. Louis plays Dallas in the next round. “We’re still not where we want to be,” Brouwer said. “We want to be playing in a month and a half still.” Jori Lehtera scored his first career playoff goal and rookie defenseman Colton Parayko also scored for the Blues, who avoided another inglorious finish. They led 2-0 early, their second two-goal cushion in two games, before the Blackhawks tied it in the second period. Marian Hossa scored his third goal of the series and Andrew Shaw got his fourth on a power play for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane was dangerous all night but was scoreless, and was minus-3.

YEAH!!!  What a game!!!  To read the rest of the story, and see some photo highlights, click on the text above.  GO BLUES!!!!     🙂

St. Louis Blues beat Chicago 4-3 in Game 4 of Playoffs

The lessons were difficult and painful. Three straight years of regular-season success for St. Louis, followed by playoff failure. The Blues learned. They persevered, and they are roaring right now. Vladimir Tarasenko scored on two dazzling wrist shots, Brian Elliott made 39 saves and St. Louis beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series. “We just have a belief that we can beat anybody,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. Jaden Schwartz scored a tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period for the second straight game as St. Louis moved one step closer to advancing to the second round for the first time since 2012. The Blues looked ready for deep playoff runs in each of the last three seasons only to be eliminated in the opening series each time. Game 5 is Thursday night in St. Louis. “There’s a good feeling that we’re more cohesive and playing for each other and doing the right things all over the ice than we ever had in this locker room,” captain David Backes said, “and that bodes well for our group.” Duncan Keith had two goals for Chicago, which dropped consecutive home playoff games for the first time since 2012. Andrew Shaw had a goal and two assists, and Corey Crawford finished with 16 saves after getting into a fight with Blues rookie Robby Fabbri during a wild second period. Shaw was sent off for interference at 17:56 of the third, hurting Chicago’s chance for a comeback.

To read the rest of the article, and see some photos from the game, click on the text above.  GO BLUES!!!     🙂

Backes gets OT winner, St. Louis Blues beat Blackhawks 1-0

Brian Elliott thwarted the Chicago Blackhawks at every turn. The St. Louis Blues goalie was every bit as good as he was in the regular season, earning his first career playoff shutout in a 1-0 overtime victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions on Wednesday night. He made 35 saves and didn’t look at all like a player getting just his second playoff start in three years. “You just try to get your emotions in check and try not to get too revved up, calm yourself down a little bit when needed,” Elliott said. “At this time of the year it’s just about that next game. You’re not looking at the past or the future.” David Backes scored at 9:04 of overtime trying to go across the ice to Alexander Steen, and the pass deflected off a Chicago Blackhawks defenseman in front of the net. It was Backes’ sixth career playoff goal and the first in overtime. “I said out there, that’s an ugly goal and I specialize in those,” the Blues’ captain said. “Rightfully so. First shot of the game for me, too.” Backes’ shot got past Corey Crawford after bouncing off Trevor Van Riemsdyk’s skate. Defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo assisted on the winner. “I kind of felt it hit the inside of my pad and from there I was just hoping that it died,” Crawford said. “It was a tough bounce, but we’ve got to feel good about how we played.” Elliott led the NHL with a .930 save percentage and was up to the task against a lineup led by scoring champion Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Elliott shared a playoff shutout in 2012 after relieving the injured Jaroslav Halak in Game 2 of the first round against San Jose. Elliott came into the playoffs sharp after going 11-1 in his final 14 starts with three consecutive shutouts. “We had a number of chances, especially on the power play,” Toews said. “I think all four lines can generate a little bit more around the net.” The Blues had 10 shutouts during the regular season, seven of them on the road. Jake Allen had six of the shutouts. Coach Ken Hitchcock thought there were enough chances for a 6-5 game, and thought the game-winner would be more impressive, too. “I thought it would be a 2-on-1, top shelf,” Hitchcock said. “I wasn’t thinking fluky goal, but we’ll take it. We’ll take every win we can.” St. Louis cruised into the postseason with the third-best record in the NHL, winning eight of its last 10 games. The Blues opened their previous series in 2014 against the Blackhawks with a pair of overtime victories, with Alexander Steen getting the winner in triple overtime in the opener. But Chicago won the last four, two in overtime.

Awesome game!!  To read the rest of this recap, click on the text above.  GO BLUES!!!     🙂

NHL: St. Louis Blues dodge Tampa Bay Bolts in OT

Jaden Schwartz scored 1:16 into overtime and the St. Louis Blues slipped past Tampa Bay, 2-1, at Scottrade Center. Vladimir Tarasenko picked up the other goal for the Blues, who have won six in a row and 11 of their last 12 to challenge Nashville for Central Division supremacy. Brian Elliott picked up the win thanks to 30 stops.

As many of you know, I’m originally from St. Louis.  And, with NFL done for the season, and baseball a ways off, I guess I’ll keep an eye on how the Blues are doing.  Right now, they seem to be on a bit of a roll.  Go Blues!   🙂

Ice Hockey: St. Louis Blues blank NJ Devils

Jake Allen stopped 26 shots for his second shutout of the season to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in the front end of a home-and-home set.

Now that baseball season is over, most of us are paying attention to the NFL.  I sure am.  But, there are some folks out there who care about hockey season.  So, being originally from St. Louis, I’m happy to see my Blues getting off to a good start.  Go Blues!!   🙂