We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — they may not get a ton of national attention, but the St. Louis Blues have one of the most tortured fan bases in all of North American pro sports.
From Bernie Federko to Brett Hull to Al MacInnis and even (briefly) Wayne Gretzky, the franchise has not lacked for great players since entering the league in 1967. Yet the Blues are still searching for their first Stanley Cup.
Couple the franchise’s long history of postseason disappointment with the first-round losses they’ve suffered the past two years and the Blues entered these playoffs with arguably the most pressure of any of the 16 teams participating.
That’s why last night’s win in Minnesota was so huge.
Related: Columnist says if Blues lose to Wild, there should be ‘consequences’
After 16 seasons and 1,108 NHL games with six different teams, defenseman Hal Gill has retired.
“I am so thankful to have played for such great organizations,” said Gill, 40, in an NHLPA release.
“I was lucky to have made amazing friendships throughout my career and live in so many beautiful cities. I would like to thank the fans for their support, the coaches for their direction, the team staffs for their efforts, and most of all, my teammates for their camaraderie (and keeping me in line).”
Gill also played 111 playoff games, winning a Stanley Cup with the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins.
A Boston draft pick in 1993, the Providence College product played for the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Canadiens, Predators and Flyers.
Related: Hal Gill is funny
Two periods of “clean” and “calm” goaltending have earned Ryan Miller the start for the Vancouver Canucks when they try to stave off elimination tonight against the Flames.
Miller replaced Eddie Lack Tuesday, stopping all 15 shots he faced in the 3-1 loss.
“He’s been in big games before, but the biggest thing is how he played in Calgary. I thought he looked really sharp,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said this morning.
“He just made some clean saves. They had some good chances. We were pressing, so we gave up some clear-cut chances, and I thought he was really clean on quite a few of his saves. And he looked calm, too.”
The risk is that Miller has only played five periods of hockey since getting hurt in February. The 34-year-old conceded yesterday that he was still recovering from the sprained knee he suffered on Long Island two months ago.
And certainly Lack has not been the reason Vancouver finds itself trailing the series 3-1. Only one of the three goals he surrendered in Game 4 — the third one, by Sam Bennett — could be categorized as bad.
Desjardins said it wasn’t an easy decision.
“Eddie’s played really great for us,” he said. “He did a great job down the stretch.”
But now it’s up to Miller, the free agent the Canucks signed to a three-year, $18 million contract this past summer.
“I think playoffs always comes down to goaltending,” said Desjardins. “If you get great goaltending, you always have a chance.”
Related: Baertschi to play Game 5; Burrows out for series