The St. Louis Blues are the first Western Conference team to have its ticket punched to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are also in the running to win the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1999-2000, when they finished with 114 points but lost to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Obviously, St. Louis is banking on a better result this spring, but before discussing expectations and potential for Ken Hitchcock's team, let's examine how the Blues got to this point in the season.
Here are five reasons why the Blues are heading to the playoffs for the third straight season with Hitchcock in charge:
I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.
— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh