This year the St. Louis Blues have proved and accomplished a lot, and this article is not designed to take away or diminish anything they have done, but to put things into perspective. The Blues have had an outstanding first half, and although it is much better than having a terrible first half, the Blues have not guaranteed themselves anything.
Most people consider Lord Stanley's Cup to be the hardest trophy to win in all of professional sports. The season-long test of 82 games is grueling enough, and then there are the playoffs, a four-round tournament that tests skill, stamina, mental toughness and of course physical toughness.
Many of the greatest players to lace up a pair of skates have never lifted that most precious prize above their head. It is the goal of every NHL player, and obviously the goal for the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues have definitely taken the right steps to claim the Cup. The team is currently in first place in the Western Conference and tied with the New York Rangers for the No. 1 spot in all of hockey, but like I said before, there is a long journey ahead. Unfortunately for St. Louis, most of that journey will be on the road.
The Blues have a league-best record of 19-3-3 at home this season. The road games, however, have been much different for St. Louis: The Blues have a mediocre 8-9-3 record on the road this season. Teams who win championships are the teams who find ways to win on the road. So far, St. Louis has not shown this ability, but they need to right now.
Next Monday night the Blues head to Joe Louis Arena, also known as the house of the Detroit Red Wings where no road team has won a game since November 3rd. For the Blues, it is their final regular-season chance to show that they can win in one of hockey's most feared arenas.
It is a chance to show the hockey world that when St. Louis comes to town, they bring a relentless 60-minute attack that cannot be matched. It is a chance for the Blues to tell the Evil Empire that the NHL Central Division no longer belongs to them, but that all roads now go through St. Louis. It is a chance for the Blues to show that the greatest hockey team in the world does not lie in Hockey Town, but in the place that is typically known as Baseball Heaven.
The Blues have a huge chance Monday night to show the world that hockey is officially back in St. Louis, and it is here to stay.
The journey does not end with Detroit though. The Blues also need to show that they can build up consistent victories on the road. Over the next month, the Blues have six road games that are all very important, but the real test begins on February 23rd.
Starting that night, the Blues will leave the friendly confines of the Scottrade Center and begin a brutal test in which 13 of their next 16 games will take place on the road. The trip will take them all over the United States and will even extend out into Canada. It will be the ultimate test of will power for this young and talented Blues team.
It will also be the ultimate opportunity. The Blues can show that they are not just a team that performs at home but a team that can also change their identity. They can become a team of road warriors, a team that shows up every night and competes hard for 60 minutes no matter what the circumstances are.
The Blues need to do more than survive this stretch of road games though. They need to dominate them. Only through domination on the road can this team go into the playoffs on a proverbial high note.
Only through road domination can the Blues consider themselves a favorite to claim the coveted trophy known as Lord Stanley's Cup. Only then can the Blues finally be satisfied with themselves.