Playoff Hockey Coming Back To St. Louis

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(KTVI)-After missing half the season in a labor dispute, then hitting a slump that had them out of playoff contention as recently late March, the St. Louis Blues have indeed made it to the hockey promised land, the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They got the win they needed against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night to secure home ice for first round of action.

More coverage: Blues Clinch Home Ice, Face L.A. Kings In Playoffs

The official schedule won’t be released by the NHL until Sunday night, but the Blues are expected to start their series against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night.

When they do, 101 ESPN Radio host and Post-Dispatch Hockey writer Jeremy Rutherford says fans will be expecting better than last year's second round sweep at the hands of the Kings.

"I think the fans are gonna catch on, but they want this team to prove it to them.  Last year when you get swept, it’s a hard pill to swallow for the fans.  And I think, now going into this playoff, you don’t know which team is going to show up."

Website: St. Louis Blues

And with the postseason puck dropping at Scottrade Center, that means a hockey party for St. Louis.  The team is already promoting pre-game block parties before each home game.

After a dark period for the team and its fans through most of the 2000's, the St. Louis blues are back to playoff appearances being an expectation.  This also comes in the first year of new ownership.  Tom Stillman, the local businessman who put together a group of St. Louis investors to buy the club will get his reward with a playoff run.

There's also the issue of the lockout that cost the team half its season.  Fox Sports Midwest Blues Announcer John Kelly says it's almost stunning how well the team and the league have rebounded.

"I am a little surprised it came back as strongly as it did in terms of attendance, interest, TV ratings.  I think it was a lot better than people thought.  I think that proves one thing, is that hockey fans are very loyal," Kelly said Sunday.

Of course it won't be easy.  The Blues take on an L.A. Kings club against whom they've lost eight in a row going back to last year's sweep out of the playoffs. But that doesn't stop long time diehards from dreaming of a Stanley Cup.

"I think if the Blues ever had a parade on Market Street it would be unlike any other," Rutherford said.

Kelly agrees, saying, "I know the Cardinals have obviously had a great run in this city and they’ll always be number one, but a Blues Stanley Cup parade would probably be very unique and release a lot of passion in this city that’s been building since 1967."

The NHL announced the playoff schedules for all first round series in the Stanley Cup playoffs late Sunday night. Here is the Blues vs Kings series schedule.

Game 1 - Kings at Blues - Tuesday, April 30 - 7:00 PM

Game 2 - Kings at Blues - Thursday, May 2 - 8:30 PM

Game 3 - Blues at Kings - Saturday, May 4 - 9:00 PM

Game 4 - Blues at Kings - Monday, May 6 - 9:00 PM

Game 5 - Kings at Blues - Wednesday, May 8 - Time/TBA

Game 6 - Blues at Kings - Friday, May 10 - Time/TBA

Game 7 - Kings at Blues - Monday, May 13 - Time/TBA

Blues players comment on their upcoming matchup and hopeful revenge against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings.

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