Defying History: The Curious Case of the St. Louis Blues


The NHL regular season matters, unless you’re the St. Louis Blues.

There used to be fun argument I would make at the beginning of each NHL season: “Nothing matters until St. Patrick’s Day.”

To me, the NHL season was nothing more than a glorified, super long, preseason. Then St. Patrick’s Day hit, and things got serious. The St. Louis Blues were my reasoning for this. No matter how high they finished in the 82-game campaign, their postseasons always fell short. Usually way short.

I’ll admit, I was wrong.

The regular season matters. Since 1994, only two teams seeded 6th or lower in the playoff bracket have gone on to win the Cup: the 2011-12 Kings (8th seed) and the 2013-14 Kings (6th Seed). In the 21 Stanley Cup Finals that have been played since 1994, only 9 of the 42 teams were seeded 6th or higher.

Since 1994 only two teams seeded 6th or lower in the playoff bracket have gone on to win the Cup.

What’s more telling, 13 of the 21 winners were a 1st or 2nd seed and 6 of those winners were President’s Cup Winners, finishing the regular season with the best record.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that unlike the MLB Postseason, wild card teams aren’t likely to make a long run in the playoffs. This is despite the fact that the point disparity between the top and bottom teams in the playoffs has shrunk from 30 points in 1994 to 16 points last season. The top teams still prevail more than they don’t.

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But Why?

The NHL regular season is a long slog at 82 games. The Stanley Cup playoffs aren’t a walk in the park, either. If the Stanley Cup winner swept every series, they’d play a minimum of 16 games. Sweeping every series is not likely; in fact, its never happened. Stanley Cup finalists are likely playing another 20-26 games, or a quarter of a season.   It’s safe to say that teams that play consistently well in the regular season are well prepared for the long haul of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal during the first period against the Saint Louis Blues in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports /

The problem? The St. Louis Blues. The Blues seem to defy history. Since making the Western Conference Finals in 2001, the Blues have only advanced past the 1st round twice in eight playoff appearances, despite being seeded 6th or lower only twice. These results are perplexing to say the least. These results make you want to scream. In fact, they make you want to believe that the NHL regular season is a farce. But it’s not…unless you’re the Blues.

Currently in 3rd place in the Central Division, the Blues seem to be headed for another postseason. Their regular season, an up-and-down roller coaster, seems to be trending upward.

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They can improve in the standings, and frankly should improve as players return from injury. If this happens history would tell us the Blues chances in the playoffs would normally be good. But as we have learned, the Blues’ history is far from normal. Which version of history will the Blues defy this year? Their own…or the rest of the league’s?