The 2018-19 NHL season has concluded and what a season! Who would have thought that the St. Louis Blues would move from dead last in the league standings in early January to hoisting the Stanley Cup? This was definitely an NHL season of surprises.
Well, according to an article in Bleacherreport.com one Scott Berry bet $400 on the Blues winning the Cup back in January which turned out to be 250-1 odds. He cashed in on the bet netting him a hefty $100,000 return.
The 2018-19 NHL Season Surprises Were Numerous
Tampa Bay Lightning
The story here was that the Tampa Bay Lightning broke all kinds of records by running away with the President’s Trophy with the best record in the NHL. They finished an amazing 62-16-4 record good for 128 points. They accumulated a goal differential of +103. Leading the way for Tampa Bay was none other than Nikita Kucherov. He tallied a remarkable 128 points just like his team, including 41 goals. He and his team were certain to go on and win the Cup, right?
To most everyone who knows anything about the NHL we saw a huge surprise when they were swept in the first round of the playoffs. The eighth seed Columbus Blue Jackets made them look like an ordinary team. Not only were the Lightning swept, their usually powerful offense was outscored 19-8 in the four games.
So, one upset is no big deal, right? Wrong again. The Pittsburgh Penguins were also swept by the New York Islanders and the hockey gods were starting to show their powers. Sidney Crosby and his Penguins just didn’t have what it took to move from the first round. You can be certain there will be some personnel movements in Pittsburgh this off-season. Maybe Scott Berry will even take a bet like that.
Was this year the year of the underdogs?
The underdog Carolina Hurricanes held their own against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. They outlasted them in seven games. The last game went into double overtime before the self-described ”jerks” pulled off another amazing upset. The Hurricanes then swept the Islanders in the next round. Go figure.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks fell behind the Vegas Golden Knights three games to one. They then mounted a comeback thanks to some questionable officiating (how do you spell hand pass?). They won three straight games including the last two games in overtime to move onto the next round against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Calgary Flames finished on top of the Western Conference with 107 points. They should have had little trouble with the eighth seed Avalanche. The Avs squeaked into the playoffs in the last couple of games before the regular season ended. However, as had been the case in this 2018-19 NHL season of surprises the Flames were extinguished in five games by the up and coming Avalanche.
What is going on? The NHL held their bracket contest and with all the upsets had to restart it.
St. Louis Blues
There is no other 2018-19 NHL season of surprises that can excel that which the St. Louis Blues accomplished. Their 11-game winning streak from January 23rd to February 19th showed that something marvelous was taking place for them.
Jordan Binnington won nine of those games and the 88th pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft was just what the Blues needed to get them out of their funk. He finished with an impressive 24-5-1 record carrying a 1.89 goals against average and a sterling .927 save percentage. Who was this kid who came in looking like a super hero minus the cape?
While his statistics in the playoffs decreased to a 16-10 record with a 2.46 GAA and a .914 save-percentage he still dominated when it counted. Even when he was pulled after a disappointing Game 3 for giving up five goals, he returned the next game to hold the powerful Boston Bruins to two goals. He repeated that feat by winning Game 7 after a less than respectable Game 6.
In many ways, Binnington has to be the BIGGEST surprise of the 2018-19 NHL season of surprises. His performance kept his team in the Cup hunt the entire playoffs. Certainly others share that honor including his head coach Craig Berube. He knew Binnington got him there, and he stayed with him whereas other coaches may have bailed on him.
Then, of course, the Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly (with 13 of a possible 18 first place votes) had his share of contributions. He was the first player in NHL history to score in Games 4, 5, 6, and 7 of a Stanley Cup Final. He had nine points in the Final series, and 23 total points in the playoffs to set a franchise record.
Is It October Yet?
With all of these surprises what can the next season hold in store for NHL fans? Well, thescore.com is projecting that the Tampa Bay Lightning lead the pack to win the 2020 Stanley Cup with 6-1 odds. The St. Louis Blues are sixth on the list with 14-1 odds.
It’s not certain why other playoff teams like the Hurricanes came in so low with 30-1 odds, along with the Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, and Islanders.
One thing was proven this season which just ended, there can be surprises, just ask Scott Berry as he determines how to spend that $100,000 he won betting on the Blues.