ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues alumni enjoyed watching their old team win their first Stanley Cup so much last season, they'd love to see it happen again.
With the spotlight on St. Louis for the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills presented by New Amsterdam Vodka on Friday (8 p.m. ET: NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) and the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), the Blues alumni have been enjoying the celebration of the city's hockey lore and believe a Stanley Cup repeat would be a great next chapter.
"We're hoping that they can repeat," said former St. Louis center Bernie Federko, a 2002 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. "It's very, very difficult to do. For them to do it last year was a great thing, but to be able to repeat you would go down as one of the greater teams in history now because it's harder and harder now, I really believe, to have a back-to-back championship."
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Before the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017, no team had won it in back-to-back seasons since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. But the Blues appear set up well to make another Cup run.
Unlike last season, when St. Louis was in last place in the NHL standings on Jan. 3 and had to make a second-half run to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues (30-11-8) lead the Western Conference with 68 points, three behind the Washington Capitals for the League lead.
"You look at their roster and not a lot of turnover from last year and they've gained a lot of experience from the win," said former St. Louis defenseman and 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Chris Pronger, now senior adviser of hockey operations for the Florida Panthers. "They're a very confident group and you can see that in their play. Even when they're down, they never seem to be out, and they find a way to keep plugging and pushing forward. … I think once [coach Craig Berube] came in and kind of took hold and solidified everyone's role, you could tell when the team took its shape, they all knew their role and they started to play to their identities, and I think that's carrying that over now."
The Blues have thrived despite having to battle through injuries to forwards Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) and Sammy Blais (wrist surgery) and defenseman Colton Parayko (upper body). Former St. Louis goalie Curtis Joseph believes their depth and the play of goalies Jordan Binnington (22-8-5, 2.58 goals-against average, .912 save percentage, one shutout) and Jake Allen (8-3-3, 2.22 GAA, .927 save percentage, one shutout) makes them one of the favorites to win the Cup this season.
"It's really tough to repeat, but they've got a real solid team and they're having a great year," said Joseph, who played the first six of his 19 NHL seasons with St. Louis. "I love their goaltending, too. There's no guarantees that you're going to win a Cup, but if you're in the conversation of the top five [teams], as an organization you've got to be pretty happy."