ST. LOUIS — Before I pushed play on the new Blu-ray (on sale Tuesday in stores) featuring a documentary-type look at the St. Louis Blues’ magical 2018-19 run to the Stanley Cup, the surreal euphoria of the win had worn off.
Not to say I wasn’t still feeling it, but after a matter of weeks, the overall effect dies down to a dull roar and you just walk around owning the notion that the Blues enter the 2019-20 season as the defending champions.
Let’s just say the feelings, emotions and physical unrest and eventual jubilation returned as the 62-minute feature started to play.
NHL Original Productions and Cinedigm really succeeded here in plugging my heart back into the sweet recent history. Just as the St. Louis skyline appeared and the rousing sports theme started to play, I was right back there, getting ready for October hockey.
I'll admit that it felt weird seeing Jake Allen lead the team out in games during the early scenes of the doc—which chronicles every hardship, upswing in play and momentous moment in between—during the roller coaster season. Allen was the guy back in October and November, while Jordan Binnington was stuck behind him, Chad Johnson and Ville Husso.
It is Binnington's entrance in the film, entering to ominous music through the team's space doors outside the locker room, that ranks among the better parts of the first third of the running time. There are no punches pulled here. The bad times of the season's early stretches are shown, including the lopsided losses and firing of Mike Yeo.
Player interviews cover a moderate portion of this thing, with players like Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan O'Reilly getting the most screen time. Pat Maroon, at times beardless and then sporting a full face of fur, talks about how the team just needed to play their game and stick to a certain style of play.
It's around the 20-minute mark when the good times start rolling.
Jan. 3 rolls around with the Blues sporting the worst record in the NHL and Vladimir Tarasenko telling the screen how much unrest was being felt in the locker room. When Craig Berube took over, the record wasn't immediately flipped. It took two months for him to fully download his message into the team's system, which resulted in the 11-game winning streak and mad dash to the playoffs.
Now, any sports team chronicle DVD/Blu-ray is going to be at its best when the playoff highlights start. And this one doesn't disappoint.
The slow-motion captures of goals and big saves from Binnington, followed by the no-nonsense clubhouse speeches from Berube will get your blood pumping. When he stalks that room full of tired, sweaty players talking about giving it to the other team and getting there first, you'll want to go flying through a wall.
It is the playoff intermission pep talks where Berube's normally restrained and quieter voice gets kicked up a notch to Captain No Frills. The man knew how to connect with those players and get them to go all in every single game. He found a way to break through, as he put it, by treating them not just like men, but hockey players.
The Pat Maroon goal against Dallas to send the Blues to the Western Conference Final is thrilling. Robert Thomas breaking towards the net, bringing two Stars with him, the puck going off the post, and then Big Rig finishing the play before scampering off in a daze of celebration.
The San Jose series and comeback from the unruly hand pass miscall. The entrance of Boston and the pesky Brad Marchand imitating crying eyes at Maroon before the teams left the ice. The comebacks in that Stanley Cup Final that will never grow old.
The big miss from much of the Blu-ray was Jon Hamm's narration. He did the voiceover for the Cardinals' 2011 World Series Blu-ray special and was present for the majority of the Blues' run. Except for a special feature talking about St. Louis specialties, he's missing in action here.
The other thing missing was Brett "We Went BLUES" Hull. He's nowhere to be found, not getting the crowd fired up before the game or in his seats during the action. He isn't shown in the parade much either. The man is a living legend and could put Frank The Tank to bed in the alcohol department, but couldn't find his way on the documentary. Maybe he's still sleeping it off.
Here's the thing. You should own this thing Tuesday when it comes out. Get it, watch it and have the kids come watch it. It's nine months in 62 minutes. A wildly uplifting thing to witness during the dog days of summer. Oh, by the way, hockey is a little over a month away.
Thank you, Cinedigm, for getting it right.
The Blues won a Stanley Cup, and this Blu-ray brought all the feels and emotions right back. I'm back on Cloud 9.
As Ryan O'Reilly notes in the film, "I can't believe we pulled it off."
You sure did. O'Reilly did exactly what he promised Doug Armstrong over the phone a year ago: A Stanley Cup championship.
Now, go buy this thing and enjoy the ride again in slow(er) motion.
Stanley Cup Summer coverage:
- Stanley Cup champion Ryan O'Reilly reunites with 99-year-old granny
- St. Louis native Blues coach shares Stanley Cup day with hundreds of fans, HS alma mater
- Pat Maroon, Laila Anderson eat toasted ravioli out of the Cup
- A Stanley Cup summer: Jordan Binnington
- Bozaks turn Stanley Cup into world's most famous margarita glass
- A Stanley Cup summer: Colton Parayko
- A Stanley Cup summer: Craig Berube
- A Stanley Cup summer: Alex Pietrangelo