That the St. Louis Blues beat the Dallas Stars in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series Wednesday was not surprising. But the fact that the final score was 6-1?
The Blues got on the board with a power-play goal by Robby Fabbri, scored four even-strength goals and got an empty-netter from Vladimir Tarasenko late in the third period to cap the scoring. With the win, the Blues tied the NHL record for largest margin of victory by a road team in a Game 7 – which is especially surprising given that 10 of their first 13 playoff games were decided by one goal.
But maybe that’s the magic of ken Hitchcock.
“Well, they’ve made the playoffs every year with Coach Hitchcock, and as you know in today’s NHL, that’s not a given,” Blues television play-by-play announcer John Kelly said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Look at what happened to Montreal this year after having such a great year last year. He’s a veteran coach – fourth all-time in wins, of course won a Stanley Cup in Dallas back in ’99. He, along with the players, they’ve grown this together. When he came on board five years ago, they were a fairly young team. And now you have to say – they’re not an old team by any means, but a more mature team, and he’s grown right along with the players, like a David Backes and a Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen. So those players and the coach have grown together, and obviously it’s worked very well and his leadership has certainly meant a lot to the Blues.”
The Blues led 3-1 and 3-2, respectively, in their playoff series against Chicago and Dallas, but needed Game 7 wins both times to advance. Once the Blues eliminated Chicago, though, Scott Ferrall knew they were for real.
“I agree,” Kelly said. “Here’s a team that had won three Cups in six years. They knocked the Blues out of the playoffs two years ago after St. Louis had a 2-0 lead. They’re arch-rivals, as we know, and I never felt comfortable in Game 7 until the puck went out of the zone with three seconds left. That’s how much respect I have for Chicago. They just would not go away. But you’re right. That was a heck of a win against a team with a championship pedigree. Once they got by that hurdle, you sort of had a feeling this team could go deep and of course they found a way against Dallas.”
The Blues will face San Jose in the Western Conference Finals. The Sharks advanced after blanking Nashville, 5-0, in Game 7 on Thursday.
That’s right. Two Game 7s, two five-goal wins.
“In the history of hockey, you just don’t see blowouts in Game 7s,” Kelly said. “San Jose (was) clearly the better team (against Nashville in Game 7). Now it’s going to be San Jose and St. Louis in the Western Final.”
Game 1 is Sunday in St. Louis at 8 p.m. ET.