Brayden Schenn‘s Uppercut
With 8 minutes and 38 seconds left in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blues lead the Boston Bruins 2-0. That most tenuous of leads- practically dreaded in hockey- the two-goal lead.
With 8 minutes and 38 seconds left in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Vladimir Tarasenko heads into the left corner in pursuit of the puck. He takes one glance over his right shoulder.
Boston goalie Tuukka Rask hugs his right post, eyes locked on the ever-dangerous Tarasenko. There will be no angle. No crack.
Brayden Schenn comes streaking down the center of the ice.
Tarasenko threads a perfect pass through a couple of Bruins.
In the next 2 seconds, a thousand things will happen. The Blues will take a 3-0 lead, all but assuring themselves of their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Brayden Schenn will throw an uppercut, literally and figuratively. Schenn sends a laser off the post and behind Rask. His celebratory, haymaker of an uppercut rocks Boston to their core. The punch starts down low, ice level, and comes rocketing up at the speed of sound, past 52 years of heartbreak and waiting.
Doc Emrick, the brilliant play by play man for NBC, will exclaim in his famous rasp, “SCOOOOORES! BRAYDEN SCHENN HAS MADE IT THREE TO NOTHING!”
Laila Anderson will jump up and down and hug her mother. The Blues on the ice will slam into the corner, screaming and hugging before skating over to the bench to receive gloved high fives from their teammates.
Zdeno Chara, Boston’s captain, and warrior, skates from behind his net, hunched over, stick resting on his knees. He saw it happen. He saw it unfold and knew it a second before it happened.
This author, who somehow finds himself in a St. Louis Blues bar in downtown Manhattan, jumps out of his chair, screaming and hugs his wife and 20 of his newfound best friends. Brett Hull likely chugged a beer. All these things happened, and so many more, when Brayden Schenn scored to make it 3-0.
But perhaps none of these moments happen, if not for what took place 2 minutes and 35 seconds earlier.
With 11 minutes and 10 seconds to play in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the St. Louis Blues lead the Boston Bruins 2-0. That most tenuous of leads-practically dreaded in hockey- the two-goal lead.
With 11 minutes and 10 seconds to play in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Boston forward Noel Acciari whirls and fires the puck from the top of the right circle at Jordan Binnington. Joakim Nordstrom deflects the shot right on goal. Binnington makes the save.
Now there are 11 minutes and 9 seconds left, but for Blues fans, time stands still.
If Boston scores here, it’s a one-goal game. It’s 2-1 Blues, but Boston has broken through. They find a chink in Binnington’s armor, and the tide turns. The already raucous sellout crowd at TD Garden is whipped into a frenzy. The Bruins feed off the crowd, and the confidence on their bench is contagious. They press ever harder, skate even faster. The Blues perhaps start to doubt themselves, start playing “not to lose” instead of playing to win…
Binnington makes the save on Nordstrom’s deflection but leaves a rebound out in front. Nordstrom turns and reaches for the puck the same time Binnington tries to poke it away. The puck is on Nordstrom’s stick, and he reaches to the right of the Blues’ goalie where the net is WIDE OPEN. What happens next defies explanation. There’s no way Binnington can make this save. But he does. Described by one author as “turning his body into an open pair of scissors,” he pushes to his right and somehow throws all 4 of his limbs in different directions, stopping Nordstrom’s point-blank shot with his right pad.
No one knows whether Jordan Binnington will have a long and distinguished career with the Blues. His career is already distinguished. But if he ends up being a cornerstone of the franchise for the next 6-10 years, his statue outside the arena will undoubtedly show him stretched out- an open pair of scissors- making that unbelievable save.
Binnington’s save, Schenn’s Uppercut, Blues Cup!
Jordan Binnington’s save for the ages, and Brayden Schenn’s goal and savage uppercut were bookend moments of a 2 minute and 35-second span. These 2 minutes and 35 seconds are some of the most critical moments in the history of the St. Louis Blues. Perhaps the most important of all. If Joakim Nordstrom beats Binnington, it’s an entirely different game. And while the Bruins didn’t score there, they continued to fight and pressure the Blues. Binnington made the save with 11 minutes and 9 seconds left. That can feel like an eternity when clinging to a two-goal lead. There was more than enough time for Boston to score two goals, but when Schenn made it 3-0, it was over. Arguably.
Some may argue that it wasn’t over until Zach Sanford made it 4-0. Some may say that it wasn’t over until there were 10 seconds left in the game. Oskar Sundqvist would land on that side of the argument. That’s when he finally started to feel comfortable. But for me, Brayden Schenn’s goal to make it 3-0, and the uppercut that followed, landed straight to the jaw of Boston — staggering them, wobbling them. They would not recover — 3rd-period knockout blow.
Binnington’s save. Schenn’s uppercut. And 2 minutes and 35 seconds that secured the Stanley Cup for our St. Louis Blues. Enjoy it one more time.