St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko will be keeping his own blog throughout the 2019 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins. He will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.
Parayko has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) and is averaging 24:55 of ice time in 23 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The best-of-7 series is tied with Game 5 at Boston on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
In Parayko's seventh entry, he talks about his special relationship with Blues superfan Laila Anderson, an 11-year-old who is battling hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a potentially fatal severe systemic inflammatory syndrome.
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After our 4-2 win in Game 4, I was interviewed by Laila Anderson for KSDK-TV in St. Louis.
I think Laila might have a future in the business because she nailed it.
Although she's 11 years old, it seemed like she'd been doing it for a while. She was quick with her questions, she's witty, she's funny and she thinks off the top of her head quick.
That just goes to show she's a natural at everything.
Game 4 was a big game for us. It would have been tough to come into Boston for Game 5 down 3-1 in the series.
I think we did a good job responding in Game 4 and for Game 5 we feel the same. The winner of this game will have a chance to clinch it in the next game, so we're definitely going to see their best of the series, and hopefully we come out with our best, too, and make it a good game.
Regardless, we know Laila will be at Enterprise Center in Game 6 rooting us on.
I first met her during my first season with the Blues in 2015-16. I was doing a Bud Light signing with fans after one of the home games and she was there.
Two years later, she was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.
It's amazing Laila continues to be so upbeat about the battle she's going through. She's been doing it for a couple years, which is a long, long time.
You don't understand how long that is until you think about it. Going through that every single day for two years is insane.
Every time I see her, she has a smile on her face. She's happy that I'm there and I'm happy she's there.
That's cool to me because, although she's going through a hard time, she always puts that persona on that she's doing well and she's happy. But you just know that's not always the case because she's battling through a lot.
There's a lot she's going through with her treatments and it's hard on her, and you can see it. But it amazes me that even though she's going through a hard time, she continues to have such a good outlook on life.
Seeing Laila at Enterprise Center for Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks was special. She had been in isolation for four months where she was only at her house or at the hospital.
That was the first place she was able to go after that and it was cool for her, but it also meant a lot for our team. We've followed along with her whole journey this season, so it's special she had the opportunity to do that.
After one of the games, she gave me a blue and yellow rubber bracelet that I wear all the time. It says "Love for Laila" on one side and "Laila Strong" on the other.
It's special that she's always with us. We feel like Laila has been a part of this journey we've been on as a team, too.
Whenever I see her, there are numerous guys asking how she's doing and making sure she's part of this because she is.
Laila is such a battler and we kind of each have our own battle going on. She's trying to help us through ours, and we're trying to help her through hers.
We can't understand exactly the kind of battle she's going through. That's a completely different thing than us, but we understand she's going through a battle and we're in this all together.
I think the whole team has had special relationship with Laila this year, helping her with everything. We've all been to the hospital to visit her.
It's cool that I get the recognition for it because we have a good bond, but I can't take all the credit. She's been great with all the guys and all the guys have been unreal with her.
It's been a team effort, for sure.