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 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’ Bergeron Named Selke Trophy Finalist

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(Photo: Matt Stone / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

For the eighth-straight year, Patrice Bergeron has been named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is annually awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game” as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association at the end of the regular season. Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights are the other two finalists for the award this year. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 19 at 8 p.m. on NBCSN after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The trophy was first presented by the NHL Board of Governors in 1977.

Bergeron has won the award four times in his career (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017), which is tied with Bob Gainey for the most all-time. As the only active player to win the Selke Trophy four times, if Bergeron were to take home his fifth this year he would undoubtedly solidify himself among the all-time great Bruins and two-way forwards.

The 33-year-old certainly has a strong case to take home another Selke this season. Although he missed 17 games in the regular season, the Bruins’ alternate captain had his best offensive season of his career, totaling 47 assists, matching his career-high of 32 goals, and setting a new career-high in points with 79 in 65 games.

On top of his strong offensive output, Bergeron was the same stalwart defensively that everyone knows and loves. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound center was strong at the face-off dot once again, boasting a 56.6% success rate (sixth in the league); it was Bergeron’s tenth-straight season having a face-off win percentage of at least 56%. Bergeron also posted a Corsi rating of 56.77%, the eighth year in a row that he has posted at least 55% for a Corsi rating.

In his 13th season as an alternate captain for the B’s, Bergeron skated in his 1,000th NHL game versus the New York Islanders on February 5th. He finished the season with a plus-23 rating and 30 penalty minutes. The 45th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Bergeron finished with the second-best offensive-zone face-off win percentage in the league with a 59.7% success rate, the fifth-most total power play face-off wins with 162, and the 13th-most total face-off wins (786).

The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec native scored the most short-handed goals on the Bruins this season with four, and tied Brad Marchand for the most-shorthanded points on the team with seven. Bergeron ranked first overall in the league in SAT, a team puck possession metric, with a percentage of 56.73% (minimum of 30 games played).

Bergeron is certainly up against stiff competition this year as both Stone and O’Reilly have had phenomenal seasons at both ends of the ice for their respective clubs. However, the Bruins’ best player has as strong of a case as he ever has, and we could see him add yet another milestone to his lengthy resume by the time the NHL Awards roll around this summer.