The St. Louis Blues need 60 minutes of solid hockey Wednesday night to bury 52 years of Stanley Cup futility.

The Blues came into existence in 1967 and advanced to the Cup finals each of their first three seasons. They haven’t been back until now.

A win Wednesday will set St. Louis on its collective head.

It’s difficult to say how I would react to a win Wednesday night.

But, I’ll be brutally honest — I don’t think it’s going to happen.

First, and foremost, they’re the Blues. They have never won the Stanley Cup. I’ve said this before, they are the Chicago Cubs of hockey. Of course, the Cubs did end their curse in 2016.

It could happen — but, I’m not getting my hopes up.

That attitude is not meant to disparage the franchise. Granted, there have been no Stanley Cups, but the Blues are 1,860-1,606-432 in their history. That’s not bad. They have won the President’s Cup — they just haven’t won Stanley’s.

Second, Sunday’s Game 6 ended poorly.

Boston staved off elimination by defeating the Blues, 5-1, at the Enterprise Center. It wasn’t quite the butt-kicking it sounds like — Boston had an empty-netter in the third period. And, through two periods, the Blues put incredible pressure on the Bruins.

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Boston goaltender Tuuka Rask was the difference. There were a couple occasions the Blues seemed poised to lift their sticks into the air and celebrate a goal, but somehow Rask kept the puck out of the next.

On one occasion, the puck hopped over his shoulder and was rolling down his back, apparently destined for the back of the net. But, a Boston player whacked the rolling puck off his back.

It was at that point that the Blues’ fate seemed settled.

And, the Blues reacted poorly to the loss, taking a couple of goon-ish penalties in the final minute. That kind of gutless behavior typically signifies a team that is beaten. It doesn’t bode well going into Wednesday’s game.

The one glimmer of hope, the Blues have been at their best this season when all seemed lost. The sliver of optimism that exists in my psyche suggests they will rise to the occasion. The realist in me says, “This has been a heckuva run.”

Granted, I’d love to see the Blues skate the Stanley Cup around the rink in Boston. I’ll glow with pride. I’ll get a lump in my throat. And, I’ll sleep like a baby.

But, the next day, nothing will have changed.

If the Blues lose, I’ll be disappointed. I’ll get a lump in my throat. And, I’ll sleep like a baby because, in reality, a win or a loss won’t change my world. I’ve experienced enough St. Louis Cardinals World Series wins to realize that.

So, I’ll steel myself for what seems inevitable. And, win or lose, this has been a phenomenal post-season run, from Pat Maroon’s overtime winner, to the hand pass to Jaden Schwartz’s scoring flurry in the first couple rounds.

It’s been fun watching hockey that matters to me in June.

But, dang it, one more win would sure be fun.

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LES WINKELER is the sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at les.winkeler@thesouthern.com, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler.


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