The playoffs have been a disaster for me in terms of predictions but I've enjoyed watching them from a comfortable distance, not too emotionally involved with no horse in the race.
But now that we're on the precipice of the NHL's first Stanley Cup Game 7 since the Canucks hosted the Bruins in 2011, I'm feeling like the St. Louis Blues are standing in as a sort of surrogate for Vancouver.
Like the Canucks, the Blues are a team that has never won a championship—and if they can get it done, they'll eclipse the Los Angeles Kings (44 years) as the NHL team that waited the longest to win its first title (52 years). Washington, last year, squeaked in at 43.
As a rule, it makes me uncomfortable when other long-suffering fanbases leave the Canucks behind. And if the Blues do win, they'll be the last club from the 1967 expansion group to get a Cup—and that'll leave Vancouver and Buffalo as the oldest franchises never to have won.
Obviously, the big difference between the 2018-19 Blues and the 2010-11 Canucks is the path they followed to get to Game 7. The Canucks were the Presidents' Trophy winners and had rolled through a year without much adversity except for that nail-biting first-round series against Chicago. The Blues, of course, are trying to make history with their worst-to-first arc—and do it with a rookie goalie.
But when the local St. Louis paper accidentally ran congratulatory ads before Game 6 on Sunday, it took me back to the stories we heard about the Canucks brass celebrating prematurely in Boston back in 2011. Click here
for the reminder of how that went down.
For the Blues, the potential jinx took this form:
To make matters worse—while Blues superfan Jon Hamm stuck with his lucky scarf...he shaved!
The Canucks held home-ice advantage in 2011—and won their other three home games before laying the egg that ended the series. This time, the Bruins will host the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in the long history of their franchise—and even though that seems ominous, this series hasn't exactly unfolded predictably. Boston won Game 1 at home against the Blues, but lost games 2 and 5 at TD Garden while the Blues' only home win in their three tries came in Game 4.
Ryan O'Reilly is doing his best to turn that into a positive.
The other positive for the Blues: they're not as snake-bitten as Vancouver was. Though Boston has scored 21 goals in the six games so far, St. Louis has a respectable 14. In 2011, the Bruins outscored the Canucks 23-8 in the seven-game series in 2011.
I really wanted to see the Blues win on home ice on Sunday, to #PlayGloria and parade the Cup around in front of those long-suffering fans. If they can pull it off on Wednesday, their worst-to-first narrative is still such a hopeful example that we should never close ourselves off to possibilities—in hockey, and in life.
And after all that, we've got two more big Canadian sports moments on tap on Monday. First, Burnaby's own Christine Sinclair is chasing history as Canada kicks off its Women's World Cup against Cameroon at noon PT. Sinclair, who turns 36 this Wednesday, is just three goals away from matching U.S. star Abby Wambach's all-time record of 184 goals in international women's competition.
And if you missed it—there's a basketball game later on Monday in Toronto that has a chance to be pretty historical. Catch it if you can.
To close today—a little talk about the current Canucks.
Jim Benning held a quick scrum for local media at Rogers Arena on Monday morning, and touched on several items that inquiring minds want to know:
On that last one........ooooohboy. That throws gasoline on the already smouldering Eriksson-for-Lucic rumours, doesn't it?
Eriksson's name also may or may not be swirling in trade talks in our HockeyBuzz mock draft. It remains to be seen whether or not I can execute a deal that I won't get roasted for!