by PuckStopsHere on 04/23/09 at 01:46 AM ET
It is a popular story in sports when an improbable team makes a run and wins it all. It is also a story that rarely ever happens. This season the team that best fit the Cinderella role was the St Louis Blues. At mid-season it looked like they were in the race for a lottery pick in the draft and they wound up finishing strong and placing sixth in the West Conference. That got them a lot of believers including high profile bloggers such as Puck Daddy (Greg Wyshynski). The St Louis playoff run ended the way a lot of Cinderella playoff runs end. It ended in failure. There is a reason why the team is so improbable to be such an underdog and those reasons almost always win out. Cinderella is left in a field with a pumpkin and a few mice wondering what happened.
The Vancouver Canucks swept the St Louis Blues in four games. It was the first four game sweep in Vancouver Canuck history. It is pretty easy to look at the St Louis Blues roster and see that result is not overly surprising. St Louis’s top scorer this year was Brad Boyes. He scored 72 points. This was the lowest total of any top scorer on a West Conference playoff team. Boyes also put up a -20 +/- rating, which was the worst among West Conference forwards this season. The second highest scorer in St Louis was David Backes who put up only 54 points. On defence, their top scorer was Carlo Colaiacovo who scored only 30 points.
Sure they have some good young talent, but those players have still to improve. They have to continue to take steps forward to lead the team statistically. They had a strong goaltending performance in Chris Mason. Mason has never been an All Star level goalie yet, but it is possible if he can play the way he did in the Blues stretch drive for a full season. The Blues have reasons to be optimistic. They had a good run to merely make the playoffs and they have a very good coach in Andy Murray. However, expecting a playoff run this season was well beyond capabilities.
It might be fun to cheer for the improbable team. It is human nature to cheer on an underdog. The problem is improbable teams are improbable for a reason. Those reasons generally keep them from winning. The St Louis Blues are a prime example of this. It took an amazing run for this team to merely make the playoffs. It would have made an even better if they had a playoff run, but that is not how real life Cinderella stories usually end.
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