ST. LOUIS — Mike “Doc” Emrick is the preeminent voice of hockey in America. He’s so impressed with how the St. Louis Blues are playing this season, he believes the Note have a shot at being Stanley Cup champions again.
“Now, if that doesn’t send a shiver up a Blues fan’s spine, I don’t know what does,” said 5 On Your Side senior sports producer Andy Mohler on the Sports Plus podcast.
Emrick brought up the idea before our sports team even had a chance to ask him.
“That was my next question and he had answered it for me,” said sports reporter Ahmad Hicks. “And I was like, wow. If he thinks they have a legitimate chance to repeat, oh man.”
Going back-to-back as Stanley Cup champs is rare. But the Blues’ roster is nearly identical to the names that are now etched into the Stanley Cup, minus hometown hero Pat Maroon, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Joel Edmundson, who was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We don't see it very much because usually you can't keep a team together, but largely they have. So, why not? All you have to do, as we saw in prior years, is make the cut of 16 teams and they're well on their way of doing that," Emrick told 5 On Your Side.
The names on the roster are largely the same, but the guys actually hitting the ice have been in constant rotation because of several injuries.
Colton Parayko. Oskar Sundqvist. Alex Steen. Carl Gunnarsson. All players who have spent time—or are on—injured reserve this season.
But the biggest loss has been Vladimir Tarasenko, who underwent shoulder surgery in October and won’t be back until the end of March at the earliest. The Blues’ alternate captain was the top goal scorer in their Stanley Cup season—and in the four seasons before that.
Other players have stepped up to fill the void, all while keeping the Blues at or near the top of the league in points.
“It doesn’t seem to matter who gets hurt right about now because everybody comes in and plays up to that role or fills that void,” Hicks said. “It’s really scary what this team can do.”
Mentally, the Blues are the same as they’ve always been: focused.
“They’re not gonna get too far ahead of themselves,” said Sports Plus podcast producer Corey Miller.
“Those guys are as humble as ever right now,” added Hicks. “They’re so locked in and all they say is, ‘We’re focused on the next game. Oh, we lost one. It is what it is. Move on to the next game.’”
“That’s the culture the coaches establish. We don’t worry about any of the outside stuff. We don’t worry about anything but the next game,” Mohler said.
The injuries could be enough to make most Blues fans worry. But the team has been stepping up in big ways and is headed into the All-Star break at the top of the NHL in points.
“You’re not really worried about balanced scoring because you’re getting it from everybody since Tarasenko went down. You’re not really worried about the goaltending. You got two guys who are two of the best goaltenders in hockey right now. I would’ve been worried about their defensive depth a little bit, but Gunnarsson’s ready to go. Parayko should be back right after the All-Star break and Mikkola has been really good. So, I’m not worried about their defense at all right now either,” Miller said.
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