Boston’s Goaltending Strategy Extending Into The Playoffs

( Photo Credit: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Michael DiGiorgio  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BostonDiGiorgio

 

After Tim Thomas solidified a championship-winning run for the Boston Bruins in 2011, he took a longer than expected sabbatical from the NHL leaving Tuukka Rask the keys to the kingdom. Rask has been the Bruins sole beneficiary to their successful season since 2012. A recent question to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy by The Athletics’s Fluto Shinzawa has made Bruins fans wonder, how long until teams are using the same goalie tandems they’re using in the regular season in the playoffs?

Fluto Shinzawa’s question to Cassidy centered around how goalie tandems are so heavily used in the regular season, but perish in the playoffs entirely. Fluto asked if and when we will see the same regular-season timeshare used in the playoffs. “I don’t know if it will be this year. But I think eventually, if they’re structured that way during the regular season, then why would you necessarily change it in the playoffs? So I could see it happening, definitely. Absolutely,” Cassidy said during one of his pressers. For years, the NHL has relied heavily on one goaltender to carry a team throughout a playoff run. Martin Brodeur led his New Jersey Devils to three Stanley Cups; two of which he had played over 70 games in the regular season.

Dominik Hasek had played in 65 games before his first cup with Detroit. Jonathan Quick led his Los Angeles Kings to two cups, playing in 69 and 49 regular-season games in their respective years. Tim Thomas played in 57 regular-season games in 2011, before hoisting the cup in June 2012. Starting goaltenders have always been expected to play most of the regular season, and continue that regularity into the playoffs. Recently, the NHL has seen goalies’ workload split almost evenly between starter and backup in the regular season. Teams have been focusing on finding reliable backups who can give rest to their star keeper. It’s only a matter of time before we see this continue into the postseason.

Andrei Vasilvesky is Tampa Bay’s young promising goaltender, who has already won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender in the regular season) at the age of 24. He was part of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s historic run last year when Tampa roared through the entire NHL racking up 128 points. The 2018-2019 Lightning won 76% of their games, in large part due to their lethal offense and stingy defense and goaltending. Vasilevsky played in 53 games last season. The Lightning were not only heavy favorites to sweep the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, but was predicted to walk into the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning (and the rest of the NHL) were stunned to see the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the series four games to none. Vasilevsky’s regular-season timeshare was questioned and many wondered if he was overused.

The 2019 Stanley Cup Final was represented by two goalies: Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington. Binnington at one time played for the Bruins’ farm system as an emergency loan before ultimately starting for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues were at the bottom of the standings by Christmas and were viewed as heading for a rebuilding year and sellers at the upcoming trade deadline. Jordan Binnington received the call-up because their current goalie, Jake Allen, sported a 2.83 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Binnington sparked a winning streak in the Blues and appeared in 32 regular-season games and eventually carried his team to the Final. Binnington’s usage during the regular season had been a unique situation, but the message stays the same: goalies who have more rest during the regular season enter the playoffs fresh. They fare extremely well the deeper the playoff run extends.

Tuukka’s situation was more common. He had never had a strong backup who could handle a larger workload. They swung and missed on numerous back-ups including Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, and Nicklas Svedberg. Anton Khudobin seemed to handle the backup role quite well, but was given a two year, $5 million raise from the Dallas Stars and the Bruins were unwilling to match for a perennial backup. In the 2018 off-season Don Sweeney, current General Manager of the Boston Bruins, signed former New York Islander starter Jaroslav Halak to take on Rask’s backup duties. He was signed to a $5.5 million deal over two years, which exceeds Khudobin’s raise.

The difference here is that Halak was a long-time starter for the Canadiens, Blues, and Islanders. He had the resume that could withstand a long season with dependable starting opportunities, which is something the previous backups lacked. Halak most recently guarded the Islanders’ goal from the 2014-2017 seasons. The Islanders had a strenuous 2017-2018 season allowing the most shots on goal in the entire NHL, making Halak’s job harder than it already was. He posted a weak 2.80 goals-against average on Long Island. Halak came into Boston giving Rask something he wasn’t used to a reliable backup who can handle a substantial amount of starts appearing in 40 games in the 2018-2019 season. Halak was back to his old form in the black and gold posting a 2.34 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

 

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Halak’s reliable play put Tuukka in a fantastic situation to tend the twine deep into the playoffs. It, unfortunately, did not gain the Bruins a championship, but Rask was often the best player on the ice throughout the playoffs, which can be attributed to his regular-season rest. The closest we’ve seen to a team using a goalie tandem in the playoffs was the Pittsburgh Penguins during their historic run winning back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Marc-Andre Fleury was one of the team’s biggest stars, which is a high accolade playing alongside Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang. Fleury played in 58 games in the regular season, with a promising young goalie prospect, Matt Murray, only providing rest for 13 games.

Jeff Zatkoff played in the remaining 11 games. Fleury, a three-time Cup winner, was injured in the second game of the playoffs, ceding the crease to Murray. Behind some impeccable offensive firepower, Murray and the Penguins won their fourth Stanley Cup championship. The following season the two net-minders split time almost evenly. The Penguins gave Fleury the starting nod come playoff time. Fleury was a force in the first two playoff series, ensuring his team won both. He was eventually pulled in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals after allowing four goals on nine shots. Murray started the rest of the way, earning the franchise’s fifth championship.

The goalie tandem is not unheard of in the NHL but has not been viewed as best practice. Certain circumstances have shown that it is necessary. If a goalie in the regular season benefits from a reliable backup, what’s stopping that same philosophy in the playoffs? The Bruins are set up to be one of the best teams to test this theory, given they essentially have two starting-caliber goalies and a coach who is not afraid to play the hot hand, regardless of a player’s salary. These upcoming playoffs could come with an interesting twist if Cassidy decides that Halak and Rask can co-exist in the sport’s most crucial time of the year.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 153 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: St. Louis at Boston: 10/26/19

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Dwyer)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

For the first time since June’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins meet the St. Louis Blues and above all else, on home ice in the TD Garden. The Bruins won their last game over the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2 the final score, and will look to build on that tonight. This is the first game of a back-to-back that sees Boston play the Rangers tomorrow.

Looking at St. Louis, they are victorious in each of their last two games including a big 5-2 over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. The Blues are third in the Central Division with a record of 5-2-3. St. Louis Head Coach Craig Berube stated how tonight’s game will be an emotional one for both clubs considering the war they endured on one another in the seven-game series last season.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (6-1-2)

Away: St. Louis Blues (5-2-3)

Bruins Last Game: 4-2 win vs TOR

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins forward David Krejci will miss his fourth-straight game with an upper-body injury, but Head Coach Bruce Cassidy says “Tuesday looks good for him” regarding a return. Forward Joakim Nordstrom will make his return to the lineup while David Backes and Steven Kampfer are healthy scratches.

First Period:

The big question was how emotional was this game going to be. Well, less than a minute into the game we get our answer. Zdeno Chara absolutely levels Brayden Schenn on a St. Louis breakout attempt and the two engage in a wrestling match – resulting in offsetting minors – 4-on-4.

At 13:57 of the first period, we finally get a whistle after five consecutive minutes without a stoppage in play. Not too many shots from either team within the back-and-forth action, but great pace nonetheless. Bruins have landed some hard hits in the game as well. After the whistle though, Krug and Perron re-ignite their rivalry and both head to the box for roughing – back to 4-on-4.

On the 4-on-4, the Blues get the first good chance for a goal in the game when Oskar Sundqvist gets in on a breakaway off of a McAvoy turnover but Rask holds his ground and makes a great save to keep it tied. Prior to that, he wasn’t challenged at all.

With 5:52 to go in the opening frame, Charlie Coyle brings the puck hard into the zone and in the process, draws a holding penalty on David Perron. The penalty is the fourth minor that Coyle has drawn on the season, most on the Bruins according to Matt Porter. Bruins to the power-play. Not long into the man-advantage, the lethal Bruins power-play strikes. David Pastrnak gets a beautiful feed from Krug for a blistering one-timer – 1-0 Bruins.

Right after the goal, the Bruins take a penalty of their own. Sean Kuraly is caught cross-checking and the Blues get their first power-play of the night. Fortunately, the penalty-killing unit was great, especially Par Lindholm who has been a solid depth utility player for Boston – back to even-strength.

Not done yet as Sundqvist is whistled down for a tripping minor with 1:48 left to tick away in the first. Boston to their second power-play of the game. The B’s get a few chances but ultimately do not score. They will have twelve seconds of time on the man-advantage to begin the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 10 STL: 9

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (11) PPG Assists: Krug (7), Marchand (10)

Second Period:

The Bruins could not score on the very short power-play but they are showing off good zone rushes and they are doing pretty good defensively as well. Five minutes into the period, they’re the better team in this game without a doubt.

The best chance of the period so far came from the Bruins just around six minutes into the frame. Anders Bjork did a good job on the forecheck to allow a pinching Matt Grzelcyk to rifle a shot that rings the bar. Close chance.

Those two managed to come together later in the period. With 10:29 left in the middle regulation period, Matt Grzelcyk brings the puck in the zone and feeds it to Anders Bjork who bombs a shot past Binnington for his first goal of the season – 2-0 Bruins.

On the very next shift, Torey Krug gets caught on a minor penalty, allowing the Blues to get a chance to tie the game on the power-play. Not the best penalty-kill, but thanks to Tuukka Rask – the Bruins successfully kill of the Krug penalty and we go back to 5-on-5.

St. Louis is showing frustration and it may be working in the favor of the Bruins. Oskar Sundqvist takes a boarding penalty after a hard hit on McAvoy, giving the dangerous Boston power-play another chance to score. Patrice Bergeron nearly buries one but Binnington makes a tremendous cross-crease blocker save to keep it a 2-0 game. Penalty ends.

The Bruins did a good job for the rest of the period, however, took an interference penalty with less than a minute left in the period and will have to kill off over sixty minutes of Grzelcyk’s penalty to start the third.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 STL: 16

Score: 2-0 Bruins – Goals: Bjork (1) Assists: Grzelcyk (2), Heinen (1)

Third Period:

The B’s kill of the shortened penalty and the game returns to 5-on-5 with 18:38 remaining in the final regulation period of play. Bruins hold a 2-0 lead.

The line of Bjork, Lindholm, and Heinen has had a good game tonight – getting the puck and winning battles along the boards. The line ended up drawing a hooking call against the Blues, giving the Bruins a chance to make it a three-goal game. Unfortunately for the B’s, they were unable to capitalize and we go right back to even-strength.

With 11:38 to go, the 12th penalty of the entire game is called, this time against Torey Krug and the Boston Bruins – two minutes for holding. Another big penalty-kill for Boston as a goal for St. Louis here can give them momentum in the final half of the third.

As the game comes to a close, the Bruins’ strategy clearly changed to defending the two-goal lead and the Blues tried their hardest to bury one with the zone time they earned. Chris Wagner blocked a bomb off his left leg, hobbled to the dressing room, only to return a few minutes later. Not long afterwards, Charlie McAvoy makes a massive block on a play that was surely going to make it a 2-1 game – great work.

In the final few minutes, Boston starts to muster chances of their own. Bergeron gets a close shot on Binnington who makes the pad stop – the first shot on goal for the B’s in over 12 minutes of playing time.

With just over two minutes left to expire on the scoreboard, the Blues pull Binnington from the net, giving them a 6-on-5 advantage to attempt two goals in as many minutes. In the final minute, Brandon Carlo buries it, snapping a 14-game regular-season goalless drought. Bruins take a 3-0 lead.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 STL: 26

Final Score: 3-0 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 25 Saves, 47th Career Shutout

2nd Star: BOS F David Pastrnak – 1 Goal (GWG), 3 Shots, 17:33 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 Assist, 2 Shots, 21:30 TOI

With the win, the Bruins now improve to 7-1-2 on the season. The team will now make the trip from Boston to New York for a 7:00pm EST game against the New York Rangers tomorrow night. It is the first back-to-back series of the 2019-20 campaign for Boston and they’ll be looking to grab four-of-four points.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 150 that we recorded on 10-20-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Game 10 Preview: St. Louis Blues

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

The rematch of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals goes down tonight in the same building where the St. Louis Blues hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history – the TD Garden. The Boston Bruins welcome the Blues into the Garden coming off of a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, bringing their overall record to 6-1-2. Tonight’s game is the first half of a back-to-back that has the B’s playing the New York Rangers tomorrow.

Tonight’s game for the Blues is the first road game after four consecutive home games that saw them win twice and lose twice. The Blues currently hold the third spot in the Central Division with a record of 5-2-3 after ten games. St. Louis has come out victorious in back-to-back games with wins over Los Angeles (5-2 on Thursday) and Colorado (3-1 on Monday).

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 4-0-1 1.78 GAA .944 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-2 win vs TOR

STL: Jordan Binnington 4-1-3 2.58 GAA .916 SV% Last Game: 33 Saves in 5-2 win vs LAK

Who’s Hot:

Tuukka Rask played in his 500th career NHL game on Tuesday and in the process, picked up career win number 269 with a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs in Boston. Rask is first in the NHL in save percentage (.944%) and goals-against-average (1.77) with a minimum of four games played and he remains undefeated in regulation with a record of 4-0-1. Tuukka is historically known for being a slow-starter in a season, but in 2019-20, he has been solid and will look to continue that tonight.

Brayden Schenn leads the Blues in points with eight goals and three assists through ten games played and he is currently riding a two-game goal streak including a two-goal performance in the win over the Los Angeles Kings. Schenn has scored a point in every game this season except for two (Washington and Montreal) and has been averaging just around 18 minutes on the ice per game.

David Pastrnak has not slowed down and you have to wonder if he ever will anytime soon. Pastrnak leads the National Hockey League with ten goals and has played the least amount of games out of anyone in the top thirteen goal-scorers. The 23-year-old is on a remarkable seven-game point streak and a four-game multi-point streak. Pastrnak’s last game saw him score a terrific goal and add an assist as well.

Who’s Not:

Ivan Barbashev is one of the better depth players on the Blues roster, but so far this season he has not found his point-production that St. Louis most likely wants from him. The 23-year-old forward has only two assists through ten games and is pointless in each of his last six games. Barbashev has averaged around thirteen minutes of time on the ice over the course of that time span, but neither the goals nor points are coming for him right now.

With the absence of David Krejci (upper-body), Charlie Coyle has seen more opportunities in the top-six for the Bruins in order to keep a natural center alongside Jake DeBrusk, but Coyle has not been terrific this season. Off of his strong postseason, Coyle is still yet to find the back of the net and only has two assists to his name with a -3 rating. He also saw more than five minutes of a reduction in ice time in the last game in comparison to last Saturday’s contest. Bruins need him to start producing with Krejci out.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Patrice Bergeron is two assists away (498) from 500 career NHL assists

St. Louis Blues:

  • F David Perron is two points away (498) from 500 career NHL points
  • F Alex Steen is one even-strength goal away (137) from passing Pavol Demitra (137) for sole possession of 7th-most even-strength goals in Blues history

Bruins vs Blues Outlook:

On either side of the ice tonight, expect an emotional battle with memories of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. For the first time since the heartbreaking loss, the Bruins take to the ice with the St. Louis Blues on the opposite side. The challenge will be to not let the memory of June’s result take over their emotions for tonight and for the Blues, they must remember to stay calm against the team they beat for the Stanley Cup.

Bringing things back to the 2019-2020 season, this is one of those games that the entire league will want to watch. Boston and St. Louis are only separated by a single point in the NHL league standings and a win for either side can possibly give them a boost in the overall standings.

The best power-play in the league will look to keep that 35.7% by capitalizing on St. Louis’ 11th-best penalty-kill in the league. Boston’s trio of Marchand, Pastrnak, and Bergeron has put the league on watch with their precise passing and hockey IQ, creating brilliant plays while on the man-advantage. The Bruins know it is one of their big threats and they make teams pay for their penalties.

On the other side, the Blues have the sixth-best power-play in the NHL at 25.8% while the B’s have an 84% success rate on the PK (9th in the NHL). Boston has done a good job on the penalty-kill recently with some great efforts by Brad Marchand in numerous games so far this season.

Some big news for the game tonight – the Blues will be without Vladimir Tarasenko (upper-body) and forward Sammy Blais is considered a game-time decision for the Blues. In Boston, David Krejci will once again be absent, his fourth-straight game out of the lineup, due to an upper-body injury. However, Joakim Nordstrom is expected to return to the lineup for the Black and Gold.

Puck drop for tonight’s Stanley Cup Finals rematch is scheduled for 7:00pm EST from Boston, Massachusetts.

Projected Lines:

Boston Bruins:

St. Louis Blues: 

Forwards

Schwartz – Schenn – Sundqvist
Steen – O’Reilly – Perron
Sanford – Bozak – Thomas
Blais – Barbashev – MacEachern

Defense

Parayko – Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester – Faulk
Dunn – Bortuzzo

Goalie

Binnington

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 150 that we recorded on 10-20-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 7: St. Louis at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Bennett/Pool via AP)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

All of the blood, sweat, and tears that have been poured into the 2018-19 NHL season have come down to this – Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Both the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues have three wins each in this best-of-seven series and now, tonight, the winner will be crowned Stanley Cup Champions.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (15-8)

Away: St. Louis Blues (15-10)

Last Game Result: Bruins won 5-1

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that defenceman Matt Grzelcyk is indeed back in the lineup after missing two weeks following concussion protocol. Due to that, defenceman Connor Clifton will be a healthy scratch as well as forward David Backes who was scratched for Game Six.

First Period:

For the early stages of the first period, the St. Louis Blues accomplished what the majority of people expected – hard zone pressure and zone control. The Blues get a couple shots towards the net, nothing too harmful though. The Bruins get a couple of their own, however, as John Moore came in on the rush with a shot that had a rebound for Acciari who failed to shoot the puck.

Within the first five minutes of game action, Jordan Binnington has allowed two rebounds that nearly converted. Sean Kuraly, Marcus Johansson and Patrice Bergeron all had in-tight scoring opportunities that came off of point shots. Boston started off somewhat slow, but have come back strong with aggressive chances that have been a result of turnovers by St. Louis.

With 12:03 remaining in the opening frame, Blues defenceman Colton Parayko, with little pressure against him, clears the puck high over the glass in his own zone and the Bruins are off to their first power-play of the hockey game. Boston had some excellent chances to bury the game’s first goal including a brilliant saucer pass from Heinen to Krejci that Binnington robs with the split-save. Blues kill off the penalty.

The Bruins controlled the play for all of the first period. St. Louis went over 15 minutes without a shot on Tuukka Rask while the Bruins earned chances to score on the other end of the ice. However, with less than five minutes to go in the period, the Bruins get caught in their own zone with St. Louis cycling the puck around the zone. That creates a point shot from Bouwmeester that gets deflected by Ryan O’Reilly in front of Rask, beating him five-hole and the Blues have a 1-0 lead.

Boston continues the effort later in the period after the goal with some shots on and a good sequence of passes and zone control in St. Louis’ end but none of the shots passes Binnington. As the Blues recover and bring the puck out of the zone, the Bruins for some reason, attempt a horrendous line change that leaves Jaden Schwartz able to feed Pietrangelo who backhands one over Tuukka Rask – 2-0 Blues at the end of the first.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 4

Score: 2-0 Blues – Goals: O’Reilly (8) Assists: Bouwmeester (7), Pietrangelo (16); Pietrangelo (3) Assists: Schwartz (7)

Second Period:

Without a single sliver of doubt, the Bruins need to put up one or two goals in the second period in order to still have a chance at winning tonight. Early in the middle regulation frame, Boston gets more zone control – not as much as points in the first – and get a couple shots on Binnington, all being saved by the rookie netminder.

The second period, as of 5:58 remaining, has not been very opportunity-filled. The Bruins do not get many chances whatsoever on Binnington, nothing even close to the brilliant chances that they had in the first period. St. Louis has played a perfect road game that includes a systematic shut down of the Bruins forwards and any zone time Boston gets.

In the opening period, the Blues made the bad turnovers that nearly caused Bruin goals but in the second, the tides regarding turnovers have changed. Boston has been turning the puck over more than they make clean, tape-to-tape passes and that has prevented them from getting into the zone. It seems although they are feeling the pressure of being down 2-0 and it is affecting their game.

The best chance to score for Boston was at the very end of the frame by the line of Heinen, Coyle, and Johansson – seemingly the best line in the Black n Gold jersey once again who get some shots on Binnington but come up short. 2-0 Blues after two.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 23 STL: 10

Score: 2-0 Blues

Third Period:

The beginning of the third period is not too much different from the second period. The Blues are doing a purely excellent job tonight preventing any rushes, passes, opportunities or simple shots. In the first five minutes, Boston needed Tuukka Rask to bail them out twice – a poor method for winning any hockey game that you trail.

After a slot shot that Rask stopped as well as the two rebound attempts, the B’s turn the puck over in the neutral zone to sniper Vladimir Tarasenko who turns and gets a seemingly free shot at Rask. Rask faces him the entire way and makes the chest save.

Another interesting storyline in this game has been the failed shot attempts by Boston. Many of the top players, especially David Pastrnak have whiffed on the shot or even the pass. To add to the frustrating game, the ice has been quite poor as the puck can often be seen bouncing everywhere. It is expected when you play a game in mid-June.

Finally, with just around eleven minutes to go in the final period of regulation time, Boston gets a beautiful chance to bury one past the red-hot Jordan Binnington. A strong forecheck leads to Joakim Nordstrom all alone, makes a move to get Binnington on his stomach, but Nordstrom’s shot gets robbed by the right pad of the rookie goaltender, Boston remains off the scoresheet.

Mere minutes after that highway robbery, Vladimir Tarasenko makes a beautiful pass to the slot while he’s along the boards to Brayden Schenn who one-times it off the post and past Tuukka Rask. St. Louis takes a commanding 3-0 lead in this final game and it seems like the Bruins will go 0-for-2 in the Finals since winning in 2011.

The Boston Bruins get some decent chances later in the period, but the Blues answer big time with a goal from Zach Sanford that makes it a four-goal lead for St. Louis off of a nice backhand pass from David Perron.

Matt Grzelcyk takes a point shot that manages to beat Binnington to end the shutout, but the Blues hold on to the 4-1 lead and win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 33 STL: 20

Final Score: 4-1 Blues – STL wins Stanley Cup 4-3

Max’s Three Stars

1st Star: STL G Jordan Binnington – 32 Saves on 33 Shots, .970 SV%

2nd Star: STL F Ryan O’Reilly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 18:56 TOI, Conn Smythe Winner

3rd Star: STL D Alex Pietrangelo – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +3 Rating, 25:56 TOI

A sincere congratulations to the St. Louis Blues on winning their first Stanley Cup. To the Boston Bruins, thank you for a great season full of unexpected accomplishments. On to the offseason.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 6: Boston at St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (CBS Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Stanley Cup is in the building. For the first time in franchise history, the St. Louis Blues are one win away from winning the Stanley Cup and above all else, on home ice. The Bruins are facing elimination for only the third time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (two versus Toronto) and are looking to force a Game Seven on Wednesday.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Enterprise Arena – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Home: St. Louis Blues (15-7)

Away: Boston Bruins (14-10)

Last Game Result: Blues won 2-1

Bruins Lineup:

Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman is in the lineup for Game Six while forward David Backes and defensemen and Steven Kampfer are the scratches.

First Period:

The Boston Bruins start off the elimination game with some decent legs and forward pressure, even though they made some bad passes in their own zone that forced Tuukka Rask to make a big save in tight. Less than three minutes into the period, Sean Kuraly clears the puck over the glass and the Bruins are going shorthanded for a delay of game penalty.

On the penalty kill, the Blues had some serious chances to score but Rask continues to look excellent in net early on and after some following clears, the Bruins are now back at even-strength.

After some great forecheck by St. Louis, the Bruins finally get the puck out of the zone and down the ice. Joakim Nordstrom drove deeper into the zone and at the same time, takes a huge hit from behind by Brayden Schenn. The officials whistle down the play and Schenn is off to the box for boarding.

The power-play takes off early but in the worst way. Ryan O’Reilly manages to escape on a breakaway chance but fans on the shot attempt. As the Bruins work their way into the zone, Brad Marchand makes a poor pass directly to a Blues player, who feeds O’Reilly. This time, however, O’Reilly clears it over the glass himself and he goes to the box, 5-on-3 coming for Boston.

Boston gets a close chance early on the two-man-advantage off of some shots that created rebounds and forced the Blues to scramble. As the puck came to the top of the zone, Krug passes it to Pastrnak, who controls the puck and delivers a perfect no-look feed to Brad Marchand and the Bruins strike first, 1-0 lead.

After the goal, the B’s seemed to take the momentum just a little bit. The second line of Krejci, DeBrusk, and Kuhlman had a good, solid shift with great work deep in the zone by both DeBrusk and Kuhlman. That line is improving from the previous games in this series with the addition of Kuhlman.

Less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, Zdeno Chara engages in a net-front battle with David Perron with both men pushing and shoving each other but when Chara pushes him all the way down, the officials call it and Boston goes to the penalty-kill for the second time of the game. Bruins do a solid job preventing high-quality shots on Rask and the ones that did go through were easily shut down.

The first period was not terrible for Boston. They had some good offensive chances and were not atrocious on the defensive side of the puck. However, the Blues forecheck proved once again to be a scary force in this series and on numerous occasions, they had a minute or so of control in Boston’s zone but the B’s survived it. St. Louis will have 21 seconds of power-play time to begin the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 10

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Marchand (9) PP Assists: Pastrnak (10), Krug (16)

Second Period:

St. Louis tried to strike early again in the middle frame on the limited power-play chance with some fantastic shot opportunities that were stopped with confidence by Tuukka Rask – continuing his good play so far. Penalty ends and the game is back to 5-on-5.

Within the first five minutes of action in the second, the Bruins nearly score again to extend their lead. Charlie McAvoy showed high-level patience to make a crisp pass up the ice that sent Danton Heinen up the middle on a breakaway but a great defensive play by Pietrangelo lifting Heinen’s stick prevented the shot from beating Binnington. Nonetheless, an encouraging opportunity for the Bruins.

Just around the halfway point of Game Six, Boston is whisted on yet another penalty call. Brad Marchand aggressively forechecks on the dump-and-chase, but collides his leg with Alex Pietrangelo – a slewfoot – and Boston goes shorthanded again. On the PK, the Blues get multiples razor-close chances to bury their first of the contest including a shot that hit the post, hit by McAvoy’s stick, then off of Rask’s back and stays out. Blues fans cannot believe it, but the man-advantage ends and we return to 5-on-5 hockey.

With just around six minutes to tick away, the speed of the game costs Boston once again with another penalty. Charlie McAvoy collides with a Blues player with his knee and gets called for tripping, Boston’s fourth penalty of the game. The Bruins reply with possibly their best penalty-kill of the hockey game and successfully shut it down with great reads and clears.

It was an even better period from the Boston Bruins once the buzzer sounds, signifying the end of the second period. Pastrnak had a good shot in close in the final second that was stopped with the armpit of Binnington and now we head to the third period with a one-goal hockey game.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 STL: 19

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Third Period

The third period of play was back and forth, to begin with St. Louis putting on much-needed pressure in hopes of scoring quickly. Less than three minutes into the final frame of regulation, Jake DeBrusk does a terrific job deflecting the puck into St. Louis’ zone and engaging in a board battle before passing it to Brandon Carlo on the point. Carlo shoots the puck towards the net, bouncing on the ice right in front of Binnington and beats him. An odd one but it puts the Bruins up 2-0.

These two teams are proving once again how close they are to one another. Each team goes both ways in the third period with Boston playing a little more of a defensive style of hockey with a two-goal lead. Tuukka Rask has been able to see everything that St. Louis puts towards the net if anything does indeed get by.

Another area of strength in tonight’s game for Boston has been the neutral zone coverage – making sure nothing serious gets by them and making sure pucks get in the Blues zone more than in the Bruins zone. David Krejci brings the puck into the offensive zone, feeds it off to Karson Kuhlman on his right side and Kuhlman rips it far-side past Jordan Binnington and Boston leads 3-0.

Not long afterwards whatsoever, the Blues get one right back. A bouncing puck hits Ryan O’Reilly who controls it on the ice and shoots it on Rask. Tuukka sprawled across the crease and appeared to make the save with the right pad, however after video review, it was made clear that the puck clearly crossed the red line and the lead has been cut back to two goals once again.

Bruce Cassidy has had tendencies to put Boston’s fourth line late in hockey games with the lead in order to kill time off the clock and it works again. Sean Kuraly with some terrific forecheck, effectively stealing the puck and passing it to Brad Marchand. Marchand makes a nifty backhand pass to David Pastrnak who patiently waits for Binnington to move and he roofs it – 4-1 Boston.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube pulled Jordan Binnington with a few minutes left on the clock in an attempt to maybe make some sort of comeback effort but it only results in Zdeno Chara icing the game with a long empty-net goal to put the nail in the coffin and end this game for the Boston Bruins who have forced a Game Seven.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 32 STL: 28

Final Score: 5-1 Bruins – Series Tied 3-3

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 27 Saves on 28 Shots, .964 SV%

2nd Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 15:47 TOI

3rd Star: BOS D Brandon Carlo – 1 Goal (GWG), +3 Rating, 20:32 TOI

For the first time in NHL history, the Boston Bruins will host a Game Seven in the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night. Scheduled puck drop is 8:00pm EST.

Blues’ Barbashev To Have Hearing For Hit To Head Of Bruins’ Johansson

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(Photo: John Tlumacki / Boston Globe)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced this morning that St. Louis Blues winger Ivan Barbashev will have a hearing for an illegal check to the head of Boston Bruins winger Marcus Johansson.

Officiating has been a hotly contested topic throughout the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Thursday night’s Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden was no different. While the game saw its fair share of controversy with officiating, Barbashev’s hit seemed to start it all early on in the first period.

Barbashev did not receive a penalty for the hit, and Johansson was not injured as a result of the play. The hit caused Johansson to spin around as a result of the extremely high contact and came after Johansson had already shot the puck on Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington.

The announcement of Barbashev’s hearing comes after a game that saw plenty of contestable choices by officials, including a high hit on Torey Krug by Zach Sanford, a blatant hold on Torey Krug by Oskar Sundqvist, and a textbook, egregious slew-foot on Noel Acciari by Tyler Bozak, which led to David Perron’s game-winning goal.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 5: St. Louis at Boston

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PHOTO CREDITS: (CBS Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

Right down to the wire. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues meet tonight for Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals with the series tied 2-2. The Bruins had a rough night in Game Four, losing 4-2 the final score. Tonight’s game in Boston is arguably the most important game to date for both teams.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Home: Boston Bruins (14-9)

Away: St. Louis Blues (14-7)

Last Game Result: Blues won 4-2

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

The Boston Bruins will have the services of captain Zdeno Chara who suffered a facial injury following a blocked shot in the second period of Game Four, but will once again be without Matt Grzelcyk who is still out with an injury after going through concussion protocol. David Backes is out of the lineup and Steven Kampfer is in to make it seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

First Period:

After and amazingly-loud opening anthem and introductions, Game Five is officially underway. Marcus Johansson gets the first good chances quite early in the game, taking a pass from Charlie Coyle and rushing hard for a wrap-around chance that nearly bounces up and over the pad of Binnington. Solid skating by Johansson to get the opportunity.

Less than four minutes in, Sean Kuraly lands a clean tape-to-tape pass across the zone to Brad Marchand who rips a hard wrist shot off of Binnington’s blocker. The rebound was briefly there for Kuraly but he could not beat Binnington there. Only seconds later, Noel Acciari levelled Alex Pietrangelo in the neutral zone that was met with cheers from the Boston faithful.

The Bruins then feel the pressure of the Blues dangerous forecheck and when they clear the puck out of the zone, it hits a small pile of excess snow on the ice, stopping the puck conveniently for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly stops up, sending a back-checking Brayden Schenn sliding on the ice. As the Blues recover, Vince Dunn sends the puck over the glass and the Bruins are off to the power-play. Unfortunately, Boston failed to capitalize on the first man-advantage of the game.

Boston has been getting quite a few chances past the halfway mark of the opening frame. Torey Krug demolished Alexander Steen behind Rask’s net, taking the puck away and a few passes later, Brad Marchand has some speed up the middle. Marchand stops up and feeds Pastrnak who blasts one off of the pads of Binnington. The Blues goaltender has been much more active already in this one.

At this point of the hockey game, Tuukka Rask has only faced four shots against but has had to make two large stops on Tyler Bozak and Jay Bouwmeester in the slot. Both goaltenders have been on their game as they have been all playoffs.

Just around five minutes to go, the top line of the Bruins get two Grade A scoring chances including a tight shot by Marchand that rang off of the short-side post and got the crowd cheering as they have been for what seems like the entire night so far. On the same shift, Bergeron unleashes a bomb from the high slot and Binnington continues to look great.

Another chance for Boston leads to a penalty for the Black and Gold. Brad Marchand attempts to poke the puck from Jordan Binnington but hit him in the mid-section, getting whistled for a slashing call. 2:38 remaining in the first period and St. Louis goes to their first man-advantage of the game. On that power-play, Chara turns the puck over on the clear attempt and roughly 25 seconds later, David Perron one-times a puck from a Ryan O’Reilly pass that gets robbed by a sprawling Tuukka Rask – penalty killed off.

Solid period for the Boston Bruins on both ends of the ice including Tuukka Rask while Jordan Binnington is the sole reason for this game being tied still.

Shots on Goals: BOS: 17 STL: 8

Score: 0-0

Second Period:

Less than thirty seconds into the second period, somehow Vladimir Tarasenko gets away on a breakaway but Tuukka Rask follows him all the way and makes the save and proceeds to make another one on the rebound attempt. The Blues continue the hard pressure early in the period and off of a poor Bruins line chance, O’Reilly is alone in front and beats Rask 55 seconds into the period. 1-0 Blues.

The Blues have put a lot more pressure on the Bruins in the second period so far but in the process, have engaged in poor hits that appear to have targeted the heads of Bruins. Most notable, Zach Sanford hits Krug up high with no call made on the ice whatsoever. Officials have not been great tonight and another instance is on display here.

At the 9:25 mark of the second, the officials finally call a penalty on the St. Louis Blues – an interference penalty on David Perron who knocked down David Pastrnak without the puck on his stick. The power-play was quite bad for Boston, failing to even enter the zone with consistency and when they did, not too many chances came as a result. Bruins now 0-for-2 on the man-advantage.

The St. Louis Blues have effectively shut down the Bruins from making good plays in this game as they did in Game Four. The strategy of throwing shots on Binnington in the first period has disappeared and Boston looks out of sorts late in the period. The fourth line has been by far the best line, again, with hustle from Nordstrom, Kuraly, and Acciari that is missing from the majority of Bruin forwards.

In the dying seconds, Krug turns the puck over on the breakout and gets into another wrestling match with Sundqvist. The non-call on Sundqvist leads to a wide-open net for Alex Pietrangelo but his shot gets blocked by David Krejci in the crease. Rask was on his stomach and was way out of position but Krejci keeps it a one-goal game at the end of 40 minutes.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 25 STL: 14

Score: 1-0 Blues – Goals: O’Reilly (6) Assists: Sanford (3), Pietrangelo (14)

Third Period:

Down by one goal in the final period, Bruins need something and something early and they nearly get just that. DeBrusk passes to Heinen and his drop pass misses DeBrusk but allows Steven Kampfer to unleash a rocket from the point – he does so, but the shot hits the corner of the post and crossbar. Kampfer stares at the ceiling in awe that it didn’t go in.

Boston ends up drawing a penalty a few shifts later as Krejci gets interfered with by Steen. The power-play had some passes around the umbrella format with some shots on goal by Krug and a near-redirect by Johansson but no dice. Bruins now 0-for-5 since on the power-play since going 4-for-4 in Game Three.

Seven minutes into the final period of play, the Bruins nearly get their first goal of the game, but after video review, it was shown that Krejci pushed the puck in by pushing the pad of Binnington and the game remains tied.

Then, it gets worse. On an offensive zone forecheck, Tyler Bozak clearly slewfoots Noel Acciari from behind him, sending Acciari flying back in pain. Now kneeled over on the ice, the Bruins are discombobulated and a broken play leads to David Perron tapping in a goal off of the inside of Rask’s pad, 2-0 Blues.

In response, Bruins fans proceed to throw debris on the ice and rain down heavy boos towards the officials. A horrendous missed call has put St. Louis up by two in the third period of play. Even with all of that, Boston does not get a power-play from the play and the game continues to be 5-on-5.

With all of the controversy and outrage, the Bruins are not quite done yet. Torey Krug does a great job to watch a puck that is teetering along the blueline to make sure it does not go offside, then takes the puck and makes a perfect pass to Jake DeBrusk who blasts a blistering shot far-side and past Jordan Binnington to make it a one-goal hockey game with around six minutes remaining. We have a hockey game.

In full desperation mode, the Boston Bruins are a mere inches away from a miraculous tying goal off of hard shots, close deflections and a whole slew of other chances by the B’s. All of the chances were kept out of the net and the Blues win 2-1, giving them a 3-2 series lead in the Cup Finals.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 39 STL: 21

Final Score: 2-1 Blues – 3-2 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: STL G Jordan Binnington – 38 Saves on 39 Shots, .974 SV%

2nd Star: STL F Ryan O’Reilly – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 68% Faceoffs, 19:19 TOI

3rd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 25:26 TOI

The series now heads back to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Six. The Blues have a chance to win the Stanley Cup and eliminate the Bruins. Scheduled puck drop is 8:00pm EST on Sunday, June 9th.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: SCF Game 3: Boston at St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Michael Tureski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

With the series deadlocked at one apiece, the Stanley Cup Finals head to St. Louis, Missouri for Game Three of the best-of-seven series. The Bruins left Game Two with an overtime loss in an overtime session that had zero offensive chances whatsoever – resulting in the goal against on the penalty-kill.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Enterprise Arena – St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Home: St. Louis Blues (13-8)

Away: Boston Bruins (13-6)

Last Game Result: Blues won 3-2 in OT

Bruins Lineup:

Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk is out of the lineup after taking a hard hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in Game Two. Sundqvist was handed a one-game suspension as a result of the injury, but regardless Boston will be without Grzelcyk tonight. In replace of him, John Moore enters the lineup.

First Period:

For the first time in 49 years, the Blues are hosting a home game in the Stanley Cup Finals and the atmosphere in St. Louis showed that. The crowd was explosive and deafening in the pre-game anthem and ceremonies. Once the puck dropped, the two teams exchanged some hard hits, including a massive one on David Backes by Sammy Blais. Right back the other way, Jake DeBrusk goes for a hit, but gets called on a knee-on-knee hit, Boston goes shorthanded just over a minute into the first.

The Blues had some solid chances early on the man-advantage, with the best one coming later on the power-play from David Perron, but Tuukka Rask stays strong with a big save.  Vladimir Tarasenko also had a chance with a short-side shot on Rask but gets stopped and this game returns to 5-on-5.

Even after the early power-play, the Blues controlled the game and it took until roughly the six-minute mark of the opening frame to record their first shot, a close one by Charlie Coyle that almost past Binnington who was all the way on his stomach. Bruins need to come out more aggressive on the offensive attacks.

Not long after that, the Bruins’ first line had some good puck movement and had some decent chances – good signs for Boston. In Boston’s zone, Tarasenko nearly strikes first but again, Rask stays big and strong and keeps this game tied 0-0. A high-paced game made even more exciting with the roaring St. Louis crowd in attendance.

That first line of Boston has their best shift of the series later on in the period. Fantastic passing and zone coverage leads to a David Pastrnak one-timer that somehow gets saved by a sprawling Binnington. Pastrnak has been throwing everything towards the Blues net, trying to get deflections and rebounds. Good start for Boston.

St. Louis has been sending their defensemen hard to the net to get some chances, but it is only allowing chances the other way. David Backes and Jake DeBrusk find themselves on a 2-on-1 chance, only for Alex Pietrangelo to break up the chance. In the neutral zone, though, David Perron clearly interferes with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins go to their first man-advantage of the hockey game with 9:34 remaining in the first period.

The power-play stays hot. Only twenty-one seconds into the man-advantage, Torey Krug rifles a shot off of a faceoff win that gets deflected by none other than Patrice Bergeron, beating Binnington glove high. Assists go to Krug and DeBrusk – Bruins lead 1-0.

With the intensity level rising even more than they already were, both Connor Clifton and Ivan Barbashev get matching minors during a battle between the two and the game heads to 4-on-4 action for the next two minutes of play. St. Louis ate up a good 30-45 seconds just passing the puck within their own zone. Not a whole lot of opportunities for either team in a very defensive 4-on-4 session.

With just around two minutes left in the frame, Charlie Coyle does a terrific job taking the puck up the ice, avoiding the defenders, and passing it off to Danton Heinen. Heinen drops the puck for Johansson who makes a beautiful pass off a slick fake shot right to Coyle, beating Binnington and extending the Bruins’ lead to two goals.

Only seconds are ticking away on the clock, Joakim Nordstrom gets tied up with the Blues defenceman, leaving the puck alone for Sean Kuraly. Kuraly just shoots the puck with a screen in front of Binnington and it goes past the red line. The play caught the young goaltender off guard and Boston makes it 3-0 with seven seconds to go.

Craig Berube challenged the play for offside, but the goal stands after the review and Blues are handed a bench minor. Boston will have 1:50 of power-play time to start the second.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 12 STL: 8

Score: 3-0 Bruins – Goals: Bergeron (8) PP Assists: Krug (12), DeBrusk (6); Coyle (8) Assists: Johansson (7), Heinen (6); Kuraly (4) Assists: Nordstrom (4)

Second Period:

Typically, a power-play at the very beginning of a period is a lot more difficult to score on, but not in this case. Only forty-one seconds into the second period, Torey Krug finds Pastrnak down low. Pastrnak makes a quick deke and roofs it past Jordan Binnington on the blocker side, extending Boston’s lead to four goals. The once loud crowd in attendance is silent and a pin drop could be heard. Momentum is all in Boston’s favour.

Boston controlled the first few minutes of this period after the goal as well, shooting the puck often, making wise defensive decisions and just looking good. Eight minutes into the middle period, Jaden Schwartz hits McAvoy behind the Bruins net. Only seconds later, McAvoy clears the puck but catches his stick on Brayden Schenn’s stick and he goes off. While McAvoy skates to the box, Pat Maroon and Zdeno Chara go off for unsportsmanlike conduct, leaving Boston without Chara and McAvoy on the PK. However, no issues as the B’s make their eighteenth straight successful penalty kill and we are back to even strength.

In need of serious momentum, the Blues get some great zone control when the Bruins are dead tired – needing a desperate line change. St. Louis knows this and makes sure they cannot go off, cycling the puck down low and eventually scoring past Tuukka Rask. Ivan Barbashev fires a shot from a Zach Sanford pass in front that takes a double deflection off of Charlie McAvoy, cutting the lead to three.

Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron get another good zone entry with some good passing before Brad Marchand draws a penalty on Colton Parayko. While Parayko sits in the box, the Bruins make it look easy. Clean, tape-to-tape passes by the Bruins eventually lead to a bullet shot from Torey Krug that deflects off of a Blues defenceman in front of the net and beats Binnington. Immediate response to St. Louis’ tally and Jordan Binnington is pulled as a result, Jake Allen enters the cage.

The Blues had some chances later in the period, including a post shot, but failed to strike again. David Perron ran into Tuukka Rask with about twenty seconds remaining, followed by a nose-to-nose staredown between the Bruins goaltender and the Blues forward. Rask had no intentions of touching him, a great show of self-control and calmness from the Finnish netminder. The second period ends not long after, 5-1 Bruins.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 20 STL: 18

Score: 5-1 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (8) PP Assists: Krug (13), Bergeron (6); Barbashev (3) Assists: Sanford (1), Steen (3); Krug (2) PP Assists: Marchand (12), Bergeron (7)

Third Period:

Less than a minute into the final regulation period, the game returns to 4-on-4 hockey. In the middle of a net-front battle, Clifton cross-checks Sammy Blais and the arm of the official goes in the air. After the whistle blows, David Perron also gets called on a minor penalty – two for roughing.

Not long into the pair of penalties, Brandon Carlo takes a careless interference penalty on Ryan O’Reilly right in front of Tuukka Rask, forcing the game to 4-on-3. St. Louis tried to make passes around the triangle formation of Boston’s defence, but they failed to get much through the bodies in front and both the 4-on-3 and the 5-on-4 afterwards conclude with no goals for the Blues.

Six minutes into the frame, captain Zdeno Chara takes another penalty for Boston. On the power-play, Colton Parayko fires a shot from the point, bounces off of Brandon Carlo and knuckles over the shoulder of Rask, making it a three-goal game once again. Blues end the 19-kill streak on the penalty-kill for Boston.

A careless third period for Boston continues when Jake DeBrusk goes to clear the puck out of the zone but clears it out of the rink in the meantime. Third consecutive power-play for St. Louis in the period, with a chance to make it 5-3 with over thirteen minutes remaining. Boston’s players shorthanded do a great job with a textbook PK, shutting St. Louis down fully – back to even strength.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube pulled goaltender Jake Allen with 5:30 remaining in the game, trying to get a quick goal and make this one a little bit more interesting. The Bruins took until under two minutes left in the game, Joakim Nordstrom feeding it to Noel Acciari for the 6-2 goal. Just beforehand, McAvoy blocked a huge shot on the inside of the knee and was in some pain on the bench.

Somewhere in there, the Blues take another penalty and Boston does not go easy, Marcus Johansson strikes on a clean one-timer goal – Boston going 4-for-4 on the man-advantage and take a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 7-2 victory on the road.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 24 STL: 29

Final Score: 7-2 Bruins – 2-1 Series Lead

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 27 Saves on 28 Shots, .931 SV%

2nd Star: BOS D Torey Krug – 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 22:09 TOI

3rd Star: BOS F Patrice Bergeron – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 58% Faceoffs, 15:58 TOI

Game Four goes down Monday, June 3rd at 8:00pm EST in St. Louis, Missouri.

How The Boston Bruins And St. Louis Blues Matchup

Boston Bruins' Brad Marchand defends against St. Louis Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko (91) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Dilip Vishwanat)

(AP Photo/Dilip Vishwanat)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

With Game One just hours away, I thought it would be an intriguing idea to compare the lineups between the two teams in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues have been among the hottest teams in the NHL since the start of 2019 and play a similar physical style of hockey, so seeing how the lineups look against each other should be interesting.

1st Line Edge: Bruins

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak

Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz has been an animal all playoffs long. He’s second to just Logan Couture in playoff goals with 12. After a shaky start to the playoffs, Vladimir Tarasenko has really elevated his play as of late, scoring three goals and adding five assists in six games against the San Jose Sharks. Couple these two players with a formidable 200-foot player like Brayden Schenn makes this one of the better 1st lines in the league, but not the best.

That award may well go to the Bruins top line, who have combined for 46 points in 51 games these playoffs. Brad Marchand is second in playoff scoring with 18 points, and after a mediocre first round, just like Tarasenko, Pastrnak has elevated his play as these playoffs have gone on. Last but not least, we have Patrice Bergeron, who has been solid offensively, but just incredible defensively. The defensive capability just pushes this line over the Blues’.

(Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

2nd Line Edge: Bruins

Jake Debrusk- David Krejci- David Backes

Sammy Blais- Ryan O’Reilly- David Perron

Getting Sammy Blais back from injury provided a jump this second line needed for the Blues. The 2014 6th rounder (who was the pick the Blues acquired from the Bruins for Wade Redden actually) has been a +5 in eight games since returning to the lineup. David Perron is following up on two great regular seasons with six goals and 13 points in these playoffs, and Ryan O’Reilly is St. Louis’ version of Patrice Bergeron.

On the other side, we have three players, all with playoff success. David Krejci is a bonafide star in the playoffs, leading the league twice in scoring.  As captain of the Blues, David Backes went through many playoff runs and always produced when needed, whether that was through his offense, through his physicality or through his leadership. Similar to Blais, since Backes has been in the lineup, it’s provided a real spark, adding five points in the 11 games he’s played.  Jake Debrusk had a great playoff run last season, and while he hasn’t been quite as good this year, he’s still playing really solid hockey. I’d say experience just barely gives the Bruins the advantage in this regard.

( Joe Puetz – USA TODAY Sports)

3rd Line Edge: Bruins

Marcus Johansson- Charlie Coyle- Danton Heinen

Patrick Maroon- Tyler Bozak- Robert Thomas

Both of these are exceptional 3rd lines and have striking similarities. The two have an influx of speed, size, and skill with all three players on each line having great two-way abilities. St. Louis’ trio has combined for 23 points and most importantly, four game-winning goals in 19 games. Despite how good that line has been, the Bruins’ third line has simply been better. Danton Heinen leads all forwards in +/- in the playoffs and Johansson, and Coyle have developed some great chemistry, combining for nine goals and 21 points in the 15 games they’ve played together.

Bruins and Blues share many qualities, which might make Stanley Cup Final epic

(Dilip Vishwanat / Associated Press)

4th Line Edge: Blues

Joakim Nordstrom- Sean Kuraly- Noel Acciari

Ivan Barbashev- Oskar Sundqvist- Alex Steen

I’m not sure two fourth lines in the NHL get more ice time than these two. The injury to Chris Wagner will certainly hurt the Bruins, but Noel Acciari has played well when he’s been in the lineup so the line shouldn’t fall off too much. Sean Kuraly is basically a playoff legend to Bruins fans at this point, and Joakim Nordstrom has proven to be worth every penny of his contract with his play in the playoffs. The Bruins may have the second best fourth line in the league, but it’s second to the Blues’.

To have a guy like Alex Steen on your fourth line shows that you have some serious depth. While age has caught up with the veteran a bit, he continues to be a force on both ends of the ice. He’s scored double-digit goals for ten straight seasons (aside from the lockout year) and continues to be a leader on and off the ice. Oskar Sundqvist has come out of nowhere and been a great depth piece for the Blues. He notched a career high in goals, assists, and points (with 14, 17, and 31 respectively) and has eight points in limited minutes in these playoffs. The last piece of that line is the youngster Ivan Barbashev, who similar to Sundqvist, has broken out this season, notching 14 goals and 26 points in the regular season and put up a respectable five points in these playoffs.

Nov 22, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) clears the puck away from St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

1st Pair Edge: Bruins

Zdeno Chara- Charlie Mcavoy

Joel Edmundson- Alex Pietrangelo

The Blues have a bit of a theme to their defense, and that theme would be the size. The shortest player on the Blues D is 6’2, and the average size is almost 6’4. This duo features the Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo (6’3) who has continued, year in and year out, to be a great leader and an even better player. He’s third in playoffs scoring from blue-liners and continues to eat up ice time, averaging almost 26 minutes a game. His partner is Joel Edmundson, who is another young player for the Blues that is blossoming in these playoffs.

The Bruins first pairing is basically take your son to work day with the age difference between Zdeno Chara (42) and Charlie Mcavoy (21). All jokes aside, this pairing has been excellent all season long for the Bruins. They continue to shut down stars every series they are in. Guys like John Tavares (two goals, -5 rating), Artemi Panarin (-3 against the Bruins) and Sebastian Aho (one goal, -1 rating) were all looking for more production after their series against the Bruins, largely in part to the job that Mcavoy and Chara were doing.

ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 23: Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins defends against Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on February 23, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

2nd Pair Edge: Bruins

Torey Krug- Brandon Carlo

Jay Bouwmeester- Colton Parayko

Jay Bouwmeester still has it. Following a rough start to the regular season, becoming a healthy scratch for the first time in his 17 year career, the 6’5 defenseman has turned it up a notch, sporting a +5 rating and five assists throughout these playoffs. While his name may not ring much of a bell, Colton Parayko is turning into a stud. The 6’6 Alberta native is in his fourth year in the league and just continues to impress. As a defenseman, he already has a goal and ten assists to pair with a +6 rating in these playoffs. This massive pairing is a huge reason why St. Louis has been so successful.

It’s hard to have one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. It’s just as hard to have one of the best defensive blueliners in the league. The Bruins are lucky to have both on the same pairing. Similar to Parayko, people are starting to recognize how good Brandon Carlo really is. There isn’t much offense in his game, but he has been so good in his own end and just seems to never get beat when he’s on. Torey Krug has been in the top ten in points per game the past three seasons and with 12 points in 17 games, hasn’t skipped a beat in the playoffs.

( Photo Credit: Youtube )

3rd Pair Edge: Wash

Matt Grzelcyk- Connor Clifton

Carl Gunnarsson- Robert Bortuzzo

This matchup was honestly the hardest to decide. They are two very good, but very different types of third pairings. The Bruins have a young and mobile pairing. Matt Grzelcyk is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league, and Connor Clifton can mix his speed with his physicality and looks nothing like a rookie in these playoffs.

On the other side, the Blues have a pair of veterans. Again, it’s a big pairing with Gunnarsson being 6’2 and Bortuzzo being 6’4. Neither of the two has all too much offense in their game, (although Bortuzzo had a gem of a goal in the series against the San Jose Sharks) but the pair is as good as you can get from a shutdown third pair.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes a save against

(AP/Dilip Vishwanat)

Goaltending: Bruins

Tuukka Rask

Jordan Binnington

Here are Rask’s numbers thus far in these postseason games 12-5, 1.84 GAA, .942 Sv%.

Binnington has been an incredible story and has played great the entire season and throughout the playoffs but man, you just can’t beat what Tuukka Rask has done, the numbers just speak for themselves.

So I have the Bruins winning all but two of these “matchups,” but that doesn’t give the Blues even close to enough credit. Aside from the first forward line and maybe goaltending, every other matchup could’ve honestly gone either way. Both of these teams have incredible depth up front, and on the back end. I think the Bruins are a better team but by just a hair. It’s going to be an awesome series to watch, I’m picking the Bruins in seven.

2019 Stanley Cup Finals Preview: Boston Bruins vs St. Louis Blues

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

On May 21st, the Boston Bruins finally knew which of the final two teams in the Western Conference will meet them in the Stanley Cup Finals. In Game Six of the West Finals, the St. Louis Blues ran through the injured San Jose Sharks in St. Louis with a 5-1 victory. The Blues had five different goal scorers (Perron, Tarasenko, Schenn, Bozak, Barbashev) while goaltender Jordan Binnington made 24 saves on 25 shots against.

On the television screens somewhere, the Bruins management were closely watching that game. Boston eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals five days before the Blues’ victory. Boston’s first line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand were responsible for all four goals scored (Bergeron scored twice), while Tuukka Rask stopped every single one of the 24 shots that he faced within the 60-minute contest.

The 2018-19 NHL season has been the type of season that all hockey fans will remember for a long time. The 62-win Tampa Bay Lightning were bounced in the opening round in a four-game sweep to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were defeated by the Bruins in six games in Round Two. The other three divisional winners were not anymore successful as the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, and Washington Capitals all lost their first-round series.

Even though the Pittsburgh Penguins finished lower than the New York Islanders in the final standings, they had the experience that many fans predicted was going to be the deciding factor – however, the Islanders won four consecutive games and Pittsburgh was eliminated. Immediately after, the Islanders were swept themselves by the Hurricanes who were swept by the Bruins.

Regardless, there were many few insiders and analysts that successfully predicted a Stanley Cup Final that had both the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues in it, especially at the beginning of the year, but even after the 82-game campaign. All that said, we are here. In only a few days time, the two franchises will drop the puck in the Finals for the first time since the 1969-70 season. The same series were Bobby Orr flew through the air in what has now become one of the greatest, most memorable goals in NHL history.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Ray Lussier, Boston Record-American)

On January 2nd, 2019, the Blues were the 31st team in the league’s standings. St. Louis had issues with scoring, defense and goaltending and it made them the worst in the league. There was a moment in time where it was believed that the top superstars of the organization were possibly on the trading block for the approaching trade deadline. But, remarkably, St. Louis battled back in a big way. Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington stole the starting job from Jake Allen and the Blues finished the year with a 45-28-9 record – third in the Central division and 12th in the NHL.

The Boston Bruins did not have an easy road to the Stanley Cup Finals by any stretch of the imagination. The whole season was filled with struggles, question marks, and injuries – a lot of injuries. In fact, not one Bruin skater played all 82 games in 2018-19, with David Krejci leading the way with 81. Yet, the Bruins still had three players above a point-per-game (Marchand, Pastrnak, Bergeron) and the majority of Boston players set new career highs.

2018-19 Season Series

The way the NHL standings work today, opposite conference teams only play each other twice per season. The travel and the extra time it takes to get from one city to the other just doesn’t make sense for the teams to do it more often that just twice. The lack of games played between each other may skew the results, but here are some of the key statistics for the pair of games between Boston and St. Louis this year.

January 17/19 – STL @ BOS – Bruins def Blues 5-2 (BOS: Krug, Backes, Wagner, Marchand, Kuraly, Rask – 28 saves on 30 shots; STL: O’Reilly, Gunnarson, Allen – 22 saves on 26 shots)

February 23/19 – BOS @ STL – Blues def Bruins 2-1 SO (BOS: Wagner, Coyle (SO goal) Rask – 28 saves on 29 shots, 4-for-6 in shootout; STL: Steen, Blais (SO winner) Binnington – 31 saves on 32 shots, 5-for-6 in shootout)

Each team picked up a win on home ice, but the Bruins in fact won the season series with a 1-0-1 record (3 points). The big guns of either franchise, aside from Brad Marchand, failed to get a goal but I have a feeling that this best-of-seven series will be different. Tuukka Rask was excellent in both games, allowing a total of three goals in regulation on 59 shots against.

On the other side of the ice, Jake Allen lost the first game, allowing four goals against, but rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington took the big win on home ice in the second meeting, stopping 31 shots, allowing only one goal by Chris Wagner and one shootout tally by Charlie Coyle.

2018-19 Playoffs

Over seventeen games. Twelve wins. Three rounds. The Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues have already been through some hard-fought wars and battles. All of that leads to this – how do they match up together in the postseason?

Boston Bruins (12-5)

def Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 – Round One 

No surprises came in the opening round. Heading into yet another installment of the Original Six rivalry, the Bruins and Maple Leafs were neck and neck in the divisional standings and were for almost the entirety of the season. After going down 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 in the series, the B’s came back to dominate Game Seven, advancing to the second round.

def Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 – Round Two 

Columbus entered the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time in franchise history following one of the biggest upsets in NHL history, sweeping the once-imagined unbeatable Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston came into the series, winning a close Game One in overtime, then lost in a double overtime session the next game. The Blue Jackets defeated Boston in another one-goal game, only to lose each of the next three and Boston advances once again.

def Carolina Hurricanes 4-0 – Round Three

Carolina was the underdogs of the entire playoffs. They had this Cinderella story surrounding them with the Storm Surge and the Bunch of Jerks comments from Don Cherry that truly built an incredible fan base in North Carolina. The Canes had beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Washington Captials, in seven games, then swept the New York Islanders in Round Two. Boston, however, did not go easy on Carolina, winning four straight to win the Prince of Wales Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

Leading Scorers:

Goals: Patrice Bergeron (8)

Assists: Torey Krug, Brad Marchand (11)

Points: Brad Marchand (18)

Goaltending: Tuukka Rask – 12-5 1.84 GAA .942 SV% 2 Shutouts

St. Louis Blues (12-7)

def Winnipeg Jets 4-2 – Round One

Winnipeg was one of the Cup favorites in not only the Western Conference, but the entire league. However, that did not scare the Blues who stormed out to a 2-0 series lead on the road. The Jets took back both games in St. Louis, only for the Blues to take the series lead once again in Game 5. Off of another 3-2 victory, the Blues eliminated the Jets in the first-round.

def Dallas Stars 4-3 – Round Two 

The Dallas Stars eliminated the Nashville Predators in an exciting first-round matchup, but were not able to handle the Blues in this seven-game series. St. Louis won Games One, Three, Six and finally, Seven to take the series four-games-to-three. St. Louis showed great resiliency to win the double overtime Game Seven, breaking the hearts of Stars fans everywhere.

def San Jose Sharks 4-2 – Round Three 

Once again, the Blues were forced to deal with some early adversity in order to capture the Western Conference Championship. The dangerous San Jose Sharks took the first game 6-3, only for the Blues to tie the series in Game Two. The Blues took a hard loss in overtime in Game Three before dominantly winning three consecutive contests including a 5-0 win in Game Five and a final score of 5-1 in their first attempt at elimination. 

Scoring Leaders:

Goals: Jaden Schwartz (12)

Assists: Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo (11)

Points: Jaden Schwartz (16)

Goaltending: Jordan Binnington – 12-7 2.36 GAA .914 SV% 1 Shutout

These two teams are here for a reason. Each of them have high-skilled forwards, solid defensemen on the back end, and stellar goaltenders between the pipes and play a hard, physical style of hockey night in and night out. Each of them will have sufficient rest and relaxation before this game and will both be relatively healthy on the injury front as well.

Bruins forward David Backes will make his Stanley Cup Finals debut on Monday against the team that not only drafted him 62nd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, but the team where he once wore the “C” on his chest as the captain of the organization. The Blues and their fans loved Backes, but the now 35-year-old decided to test out the free agent market back in the 2016 offseason, when he signed a five-year, $30 million contact with Boston to have a chance to win the Cup – and now he finally does.

Jordan Binnington has a connection with the Bruins organization as well, as he once played 28 games with the Providence Bruins back in the 2017-18 campaign, finishing the year with a 17-9-0 record along with a 2.05 GAA and a .926 save percentage. His time with Providence may be a strength for Boston as the coaching staff has experience with his tendencies and any possible weaknesses that he may or may not have.

Aside from all of that, this should be one hell of a series. The team to win four games first will hoist Lord Stanley above their heads. Game One from Boston takes place Monday, May 27th at 8:00pm EST. Welcome to the Stanley Cup Finals. May the best team win.