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Blues show they're true Cup contenders by ousting Sharks in five games

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Langenbrunner celebrates his game-tying goal in the third. (Getty Images)

It has been 10 long years in St. Louis, but the Blues have finally won a playoff series again.

After a spectacular regular season that saw them nearly take the Presidents' Trophy home, the Blues continued their dominating and suffocating play through the first round, making their removal of the San Jose Sharks look somewhat simple. The nail in the coffin was the 3-1 win in Game 5 with three goals in the final nine minutes.

Yet here we are, with St. Louis in the "elite eight" and still there's very little buzz bout this team and winning the Stanley Cup. It seems people are sleeping on them. Maybe that's because their play puts people to sleep sometimes with how defensive they are, but whatever works.

Some are going to write the narrative that the Sharks came out flat and disappointed in the playoffs again. I couldn't disagree more. The Sharks met a team that squeezes the air out of you like a python wrapping around its prey. That, of course, would be the Blues.

In the five games they gave up only seven goals, a few those coming in the final minutes of games to make the games look closer than they were.

We still don't know who the Blues are going to play. It's possible though that they might have home-ice advantage the rest of the way through the playoffs, that's if the Canucks and Rangers can't dig out of their holes and come back to win their series. St. Louis was awesome at home this season, and Scottrade Center has been rocking. So don't underestimate the value of the home ice.

But here's something a lot of people aren't aware of with the Blues. They really are capable of scoring some goals, they just didn't have their full arsenal for much of the season.

David Perron missed a good chunk of the season recovering from a concussion he suffered a couple of years ago. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 5. Andy McDonald has missed good portions of time with his own concussion and other injury issues. He had an empty-netter, his fourth goal of the series. Patrik Berglund had three goals in the series as well.

I'm one of those that you could say was sleeping on the Blues. I rode a gut feeling that the Sharks would knock them off in the opening round and took San Jose in six games. Apparently I can't differentiate between a gut feeling and an upset stomach, or something.

It seems a foregone conclusion that Ken Hitchcock will win the Jack Adams Trophy this season as the best coach, and that is completely deserved. But it's not as if he didn't have a good team to work with. He just came in and was able to put all the pieces together. The result is a Stanley Cup contender.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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