Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Hoping Moment of Truth Is Hour of Power

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blues Hoping Moment of Truth Is Hour of Power

Article excerpt

From here to there.

The conquest is so tantalizingly close, just one victory away. By winning tonight in Detroit, the Blues would become Western Conference finalists, Stanley Cup contenders battling in the National Hockey League's "final four."

This franchise would reach a lofty plateau it has seen only once since its infancy.

One more victory and coach Mike Keenan is a genius, Wayne Gretzky is a savior, and goaltender Jon Casey is a folk hero, the unlikely underdog who made Cujo look like a pup.

Just one more victory, 60 minutes of excellence, and long-suffering Blues fans can celebrate. All the franchise's good intentions and the lavish spending in the 1990s finally will yield true achievement.

The turmoil will have been worth it. Only one more victory - against a team they just beat three times in a row - and the Blues are there.

One more loss, though, and these Blues will flop back into the pack. All this trading and spending and fan gouging will have gone for naught. The franchise will have concluded still another ordinary season.

Getting into the playoffs was no big deal, especially with a losing record. Beating the aging, battered, dispirited Toronto Maple Leafs was nice, but nothing exceptional.

The Blues got to the second round with a $30 million roster. So what? Jacques Martin got them to the second round at a fraction of the cost. B rian Sutter and Bob Berry got the Note to the second round, too, then got canned just like Martin.

So this next step, to the third round, represents a quantum leap for the Blues. The implications of Game 7 are monumental. Will this franchise ever join the NHL's elite?

Certainly the Blues are capable. The Red Wings are vulnerable, even at home. Despite dominating the Blues for 55 minutes Tuesday night, Club Red appeared ready to spit up the game (and the series) at the end.

Goaltender Chris Osgood panicked for a minute or two. Paul Coffey dived and cowered all night. Igor Larionov still refused shots and made drop passes. Sergei Fedorov skated hard, but still was skittish around the Blues' net.

Steve Yzerman, Vlad "The Impaler" Konstantinov, Dino Ciccarelli, Kris Draper, Martin Lapointe and others played awfully tough, but there aren't enough warriors to staff every single shift. …

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