It was a very good season for a very good Blues team, a balanced roster that did everything well enough to get past two of the conference’s favorites and to make the NHL’s final four, but didn’t do anything quite well enough to make it further.
(If you had to identify one weak spot, St. Louis’s offense isn’t on par with the other contenders, and the Sharks’ speed and checking made it look even worse than usual. Maybe this series goes differently if Vladimir Tarasenko plays up to his own standards, but those things happen—and by now we all know better than to infer anything about a player’s talent or character from one quiet series.)
Regardless, there are few good feelings to be found from any playoff exit, maybe especially one that came just two wins away from the franchise’s first Finals appearance in 46 years.
After the game, captain David Backes got emotional when talking about his teammates:
What did Steve Ott give him? I hope we never find out.
Backes has spent his entire 10-year career in St. Louis, and promises to be the biggest question of the Blues’ offseason. The 32-year-old center saw his numbers slip this year, but he had a very effective postseason, seven goals and 14 points in 20 games, good for third on the team in each. Backes loves St. Louis and the feeling is mutual, but at what cost? He reportedly rejected a three-year extension with a $5.5M AAV early this season, and there haven’t been much in the way of negotiations since then. Someone will surely give Backes what he’s looking for, but for the Blues, the opportunity cost—especially in the summer of 2017—could be a real problem.