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Stanley Cup Final

Blues won't be overwhelmed by moment of Game 7 in Cup Final

Were in 'worse situation' at beginning of season, must go out and play their game against Bruins

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

ST. LOUIS -- From worst to second just doesn't have the same ring to it.

The St. Louis Blues' bid for NHL history, to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup after being last in the League standings after playing at least 30 regular-season games (they were 31st through 37 games on Jan. 3), is being put to the test.

Don't expect them to be overwhelmed by the moment.

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blues Stanley Cup Final series coverage]

 

In many ways, the Blues might feel like they've been in this position before even though Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) will be a unique experience for them.

"We've been through a lot," Blues forward Pat Maroon said. "Every time in the playoffs we have that adversity or another challenge, we just tell ourselves we were in a worse situation at the beginning of the year than we are now, so accept it and let's go out and play our game."

Their season was teetering more than five months ago, when it felt like there was a string of Game 7s in front of them and the only way they could save their season was by winning on the road.

St. Louis was nine points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot and 29th in the NHL standings on Jan. 7, when they were on the road to play against the Philadelphia Flyers after losing at home to the New York Islanders two nights earlier.

Video: Can Jordan Binnington bounce back in Game 7?

Jordan Binnington made his first NHL start and made 25 saves in a 3-0 win.

They were seven points out and 25th overall when they started a four-game road trip on Jan. 12, defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1.

Eleven nights later, the Blues, five points out but still 25th in the standings, won 5-1 at the Anaheim Ducks, the start of a team-record 11-game winning streak that moved them into third place in the Central Division.

During the winning streak, St. Louis won four road games against teams that made the playoffs (Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche) and also defeated the Predators and Toronto Maple Leafs at home.

"I looked at the schedule in January and February and the road games, and it looked tough at times, but our guys really learned to deal with that and deal with adversity," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "You're going to deal with adversity all the time. Game to game, you're going to deal with it. In game you're going to deal with it, after the game. They've been good."

They're dealing with it again after losing 5-1 in Game 6 of the Cup Final at St. Louis on Sunday. It's not ideal, but the Blues still have a chance to make NHL history and win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 51-season history.

It would be fitting if they get it done on the road, where they are 9-3 in the playoffs, including 5-0 in games following a loss. They went 15-6-5 in their final 26 road games of the regular season.

Video: Rask was able to direct pucks out of harm's way

"It's a mental grind," Maroon said. "When you think about what you went through to get to where you are and how you did it, you sometimes remember plays and sometimes you don't, but it's about mentally and physically are you prepared every night? Are you prepared for the next challenge? It's all between the ears and we do a good job of that, of focusing and making sure we're ready."

Binnington has been a picture of that resolve. Following a loss in the playoffs, he is 7-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. Five times after allowing at least four goals in a game, Binnington has followed it up by allowing two or fewer in the next game.

He allowed four goals in Game 6.

"You understand that you have to stay composed and things can change very quickly," Binnington said.

The Blues as a whole have that mentality. They developed it in the regular season and have been fueled by it in the playoffs, all the way to Game 7 of the Cup Final.

The moment shouldn't be too big for them.

"It helps with the emotion knowing how much we struggled at the beginning of the year and getting to that point where we weren't sure, like is this group going to be split up, is change is going to happen?" Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "It was pretty miserable at times. Guys were frustrated. We couldn't seem to figure it out. And then having gone through that, getting into playoffs and going through these situations, the ups and downs of it, we do a great job of responding. All that emotion that we've been through just helps us to know we can get back to our game."

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