For the fifth consecutive year, is spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve counting down the top seven stories of the year in St. Louis sports. It’s now time to reveal the number two story, the Blues reaching the Western Conference final.

The Blues reached the conference final for the first time since 2000. They eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks in a seven-game series, then defeated the Dallas Stars, also in seven games, in the second round. That left the Blues just one round away from reaching the Stanley Cup final, but they lost to the San Jose Sharks in six games.

Here are the links to the stories we posted on the series-clinching wins against the Blackhawks and Stars and the lost to the Sharks that ended their season:

The top story of the year in St. Louis sports will be revealed on Saturday. Here is a look at hte rest of the top seven countdown posted earlier this week:

Number 3 – Cardinals miss playoffs for first time in six years

The Cardinals went into the final day of the season still clinging to the hope of qualifying for the wild card spot but ended up falling one game short. It was the first time Mike Matheny did not guide the Cardinals into the postseason since taking over as manager for the 2012 season.

Here is the link to the story we ran after the season’s final game on Oct. 2:

Number 4 – The departure of Matt Holliday from the Cardinals

The Cardinals announced a couple of days before the end of the season that they would not be picking up the 2017 option on Holliday’s contract, ending a seven-year stay with the Cardinals that began when he was acquired in a trade from Oakland during the 2009 season.

Holliday had not played for more than six weeks after suffering a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch in a game in Chicago. He went out that night and hit the first pinch-hit homer of his career in one of the most dramatic moments of the Cardinals’ season.
Here is the link to the story we ran on that day, Sept. 30;

Holliday had an emotional final farewell on the final game of the season, taking his place in left field before the start of the ninth inning on Oct. 2. The rest of the Cardinals remained in the dugout as he ran on the field, and as he jogged off before the first pitch, allowing him the chance to get a final standing ovation from the fans at Busch Stadium.

After becoming a free agent Holliday signed a one-year contract for next season with the Yankees.

Number 5 – David Backes leaves Blues

Blues captain David Backes signed a five-year contract with the Boston Bruins after becoming a free agent on July 1.

Backes had spent 10 years with the Blues. He ranks fifth all-time in games played in franchise history with 727 and is sixth in both goals, 206, and points, 460. He also was a central part of the team's leadership.

Here is the link to the story we ran that day:

Number 6 – The fallout from Cardinals’ hacking of Astros computer database

The story occupied our attention for much of the year. Former Cardinals’ scouting director Chris Correa pled guilty to hacking the computer database of the Houston Astros.

Correa pleaded guilty to five counts of unauthorized access to protected computer information on Jan. 8, was sentenced on July 18 to 46 months in prison and began serving that sentence on Aug. 31 at a federal facility in Cumberland, Md.

As the year ends the Cardinals are still waiting for major league baseball to decide on what penalties will be imposed against the organization for the crime.

Here are the link to the story we ran about Correa when he began serving his prison sentence:

Number 7 – Cardinals sign free agent Dexter Fowler

The Cardinals took a major plunge into the free agent pool on Dec. 9, signing Fowler away from the Chicago Cubs with a five-year contract worth $82.5 million.

Here is the link to the column we ran on that day: