Breaking News
More () »

Maine's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Maine | NewsCenterMaine.com

Ryan O'Reilly: An appreciation

He was their best player all season long and finally got his playoff moment in Game 4. Ryan O'Reilly is the heart driving the Blues to the Stanley Cup.

ST. LOUIS — Before coming to the Blues, Ryan O'Reilly had only played in 13 playoff games in nine years in the NHL.

He hadn't even been to the playoffs in the last five years.

Now, he's just two wins away from a Stanley Cup.

O'Reilly was the Blues' biggest splash of the offseason, and was immediately excited to come to St. Louis.

"To go to a team that has so many things in place and looking to make an impact and make a push, it just changed my mindset," O'Reilly said back in September. "Not going to a rebuild. It was just pure excitement."

During a regular season that (to put it mildly) was not always very fun for the Blues, O'Reilly never slowed down, and was the motor that drove the team all season long.

Ryan O'Reilly talks after Blues win Game 4

The Blues were in last place in January, but the team's spot in the standings didn't discourage O'Reilly.

All he did was put up career highs in goals, assists and time on the ice. Oh yeah, he also played in every single game. With the Blues' playoff games to this point counted, O'Reilly has now played in 105 hockey games this season.

One of the most fascinating things about O'Reilly that came out during the season, was that he often held his own second practices after the Blues would practice as a team.

His determined and resilient attitude is not lost on his teammates.

"We didn't talk much at the start, but the more we played together, we got to know each other more and the personality more. You look how hard he works in practices. He just makes all of us better," Vladimir Tarasenko said after Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. "The way he responds and the way he practices all the time and the way he is in the locker room it's unbelievable and helps our team a lot."

O'Reilly had 16 points this postseason coming into Game 4 against the Bruins, and hadn't really had his true playoff moment yet.

It turns out he was just saving it for the biggest stage he's ever been on.

O'Reilly's two goals in Game 4 made Enterprise Center explode like never before.

Less than a minute in, he got the puck past Tuukka Rask on an impressive wrap-around, and then with about nine minutes left, he put a rebound from an Alex Pietrangelo shot past Tuukka Rask for the game-winning-goal.

Oh yeah, he also came inches away from a shorthanded goal, too.

(And if you ask Jon Hamm, he always knew this was going to be O'Reilly's night.)

If the Blues do end up lifting the Cup, O'Reilly is a main reason why. Without him I'm not sure the Blues are even in the postseason, much less playing for the Stanley Cup.

This season has been a winding road for Blues fans, but the steady hand of O'Reilly has always kept them on the right path. It's the path he was envisioning the moment he got traded to St. Louis.

"That's (winning the Cup) the ultimate hockey goal," O'Reilly said in September. "I don't think it could've worked out any better to get traded to a team that is after that right now."

RELATED: Laila Anderson interviews Colton Parayko after Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final

RELATED: Kennedy Holmes sings 'Gloria' with fans after Blues win first Stanley Cup home game

RELATED: St. Louis native Jon Hamm goes one-on-one with Frank Cusumano

RELATED: 'It's gettin' hot in herre' thanks to Nelly

RELATED: O'Reilly, Blues even series with Bruins after 4-2 win in Game 4