Normally, when a coach is fired during the season, his replacement doesn't lead the team to a championship. Things could be different for Craig Berube and the St. Louis Blues, though.
After taking over for Mike Yeo on Nov. 19, Berube—still only the interim head coach—not only guided the Blues to the NHL playoffs, but he also has them in the Stanley Cup Final. He's the 11th NHL coach to take over midseason and get his team into the postseason.
It's not the first time that the 53-year-old has achieved the feat. He took over as Philadelphia Flyers coach three games into the 2013-14 season and led them to the playoffs, where they lost in the first round.
Berube had never won a playoff series as a head coach before this season, but if he can guide the Blues past the Boston Bruins, he will be celebrating the first Stanley Cup in St. Louis' history.
Stanley Cup Final Schedule
All times ET.
Game 1: St. Louis at Boston, May 27 at 8 p.m., NBC
Game 2: St. Louis at Boston, May 29 at 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Game 3: Boston at St. Louis, June 1 at 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network
Game 4: Boston at St. Louis, June 3 at 8 p.m., NBC
Game 5: St. Louis at Boston, June 6 at 8 p.m., NBC (if necessary)
Game 6: Boston at St. Louis, June 9 at 8 p.m., NBC (if necessary)
Game 7: St. Louis at Boston, June 12 at 8 p.m., NBC (if necessary)
Stanley Cup Final Odds
On Jan. 3, St. Louis was 15-18-4 and had the fewest points in the NHL. But it turned things around, going an NHL-best 30-10-5 the remainder of the season and finishing third in the Central Division.
"Once we got going in January and February, I knew we had a good hockey team and we get in the playoffs and anything can happen," Berube said, according to NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "You've got to get here, and we did. Credit to our players. They battled, and they believed we were going to make the playoffs, and we made it, and now we're here."
The Blues have displayed resiliency throughout the postseason. They opened with a six-game series win over the Winnipeg Jets and then outlasted the Dallas Stars in a back-and-forth seven-game series. St. Louis defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games in the Western Conference Final.
In the second round, the Blues trailed 3-2 before winning Games 6 and 7 to advance. They then fell behind 2-1 to the Sharks before winning Games 4, 5 and 6. Not only that, but they have also won seven of their nine road games this postseason.
The Bruins are going to pose a challenge to the Blues, though. Boston has won seven straight postseason games, and although it will have been off for 10 days between games when the Stanley Cup Final begins Monday, it should still play a competitive series.
After winning the Cup in 2011, Boston has made the playoffs five times in seven seasons, but each trip ended in elimination. It will try to look to win the seventh Cup in franchise history this time around.
"It's so difficult to advance in the playoffs, let alone make it to the final," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said, according to Gulitti. "We need to really enjoy this but realize that we have lots of work to do. I mean, every year is a new year, different groups, you always think you have a chance, and I think the past few years we've really built something special here with a great group of guys."
The Blues and Bruins played twice in the regular season, both coming after Berube took over at St. Louis. The Bruins notched a 5-2 win on Jan. 17 at home, while the Blues avenged that loss with a 2-1 shootout victory on their home ice on Feb. 23.