Mainville: Ideal Bruins Lineup On Opening Night: Version One

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

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

Before I dive into this piece, I would like to credit fellow Black N’ Gold writers Mike Cratty (@Mike_Cratty on Twitter) for the idea and would also like to further you to take a look at both Mike’s and Garrett’s (@thesportsguy97 on Twitter) article on the same idea. Keep a lookout on the website for more opening-day article lineup ideas.

Click HERE for Mike’s article.

Click HERE for Garrett’s article.

First Line: Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

Throughout the Bruins fan universe, the issues in the top-six typically fall on the right side. The duos of Marchand-Bergeron and DeBrusk-Krejci are near locks for opening night but the answers on the remaining pieces need to be found. Even though he showed struggles in the postseason at times, Head Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to slot David Pastrnak on the right side of the first line.

Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, Pastrnak will soon become the star of the Bruins’ offense for possibly the next decade and the more time he can play with Marchand and especially Bergeron, the more his value to the team and organization can skyrocket. That line, when hot, is one of the best lines in the entire National Hockey League and the thought of having that consistently is intriguing.

Second Line: DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman

During the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins relied heavily on their depth scoring, goaltending, and defense to help them last to the final Game Seven. Boston’s top six forwards failed to score points on a night-to-night basis and the lack of scoring in the elimination game was the reason for the loss on home ice.

Down 3-2 in the series, Cassidy threw a curveball at the St. Louis Blues in Game Six by placing speedy forward Karson Kuhlman on the second line and he played great. Kuhlman scored the third goal of the game with a blistering wrist shot past Jordan Binnington that gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the game.

Kuhlman’s 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame finally brought some speed and finesse to a line that was lacking those attributes when David Backes was alongside DeBrusk and Krejci. Similar to Pastrnak, time with a veteran like Krejci mixed in with the big-time experience that he already has under his belt, Kuhlman can be a good player on that line.

Third Line: Heinen – Coyle – Ritchie

This line is such a massive question mark on the right side yet again. At this stage, I put free-agent signing Brett Ritchie on this line for one reason – size. The 26-year-old Ritchie stands at six-foot-four and weighs 220 pounds. Throughout the different lineup predictions on the internet, Ritchie is commonly considered to be a depth forward and while that remains a possibility, I believe he has a better shot at making the lineup over some of the younger wingers in the system.

Alongside Ritchie, Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle had found some chemistry since Coyle’s entrance into the Boston Bruins roster around the trade deadline and that should continue. Heinen has proven to be a defensively responsible forward and with a consistent center that can play deep in the zone, it may only help the young forward more in the short and long run.

Fourth Line: Nordstrom – Kuraly – Wagner

If there was a line that was etched in stone – it’s this one. The fourth line of the Boston Bruins has been crucial for the better part of the last decade and in each of their Cup Finals appearances in 2011, 2013, and 2019, the Bruins have had a strong line that rounds out the forward core.

With Noel Acciari departing Logan International in Boston to Florida during the Free Agency Frenzy, it will be without a doubt that these three players will man the pivotal bottom line for a good portion of the 2019-2020 season.

Extra Forwards: Lindholm

Another one of the Bruins’ depth signings on July 1st, former Toronto Maple Leaf and Winnipeg Jet, Par Lindholm signed a two-year contract for $850,000 per season with Boston as a depth player. The Swedish forward adds versatile play with a penalty-killing ability that has value when injuries come along.

First Pairing: Chara – McAvoy

Franchise defenceman with future franchise defenceman. Zdeno Chara might be 42 years of age but his game does not represent that number. While he does often get caught frozen in time by the faster forwards in the league, he brings a presence that strikes fear into players even today. Chara will continue to mentor McAvoy this season as it could very well be the last season where that is an option.

Second Pairing: Krug – Carlo

The second pairing of Krug and Carlo is the type of combination teams dream of on their blueline. Torey Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL today, especially on the power-play. That said, Krug has had issues on the defensive side of the ice and even though he has improved recently, he is not fantastic in that role. Brandon Carlo, however, secures that pairing. Carlo was arguably the best d-man wearing the Spoked-B in the 2019 Playoffs and he is only 22 years old.

Third Pairing: Grzelcyk – Clifton

Matt Grzelcyk scored the only goal in the Game Seven loss to the St. Louis Blues, but he brought more than just that lone tally in the postseason. Grzelcyk is a solid defenceman in almost all facets and Clifton has matched that as well. Both young blueliners have come out of seemingly nowhere over the course of the past few seasons – earning them a roster spot for the start of the ’19/’20 campaign.

Extra Defensemen: Kampfer – Miller – Moore

Steven Kampfer recently extended his contract with the Bruins and rightly so – he adds good depth for when the inevitable injuries strike again, something every team requires to be successful. With no clear timeline on John Moore (shoulder surgery) and Kevan Miller (knee), we must assume that they are not ready for the opening night on October 3rd.

Goaltenders: Rask – Halak

Tuukka Rask carried Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals for much of the playoff run and that success could be attributed to the regular season play of backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. With the two netminders nearly splitting the 82-game season in half, Rask was able to get needed rest and not overwork himself like he has when the team does not have an adequate backup behind him. If the two can avoid the haunted injury bug, I’d expect another stellar season from the two goaltenders.

As the offseason continues to progress with more and more news as well as the upcoming NHL Training Camp, these lines could very well take a turn before puck drop against the Dallas Stars.

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Mark Your ’19-’20 Bruins Calendar: Part II

Bruins Schedule 2(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

ICYMI (aka Part I of this ongoing Summer series for the Black N’ Gold Blog)… the Bruins start the season with a grueling October schedule, including two stretches of hockey that could set them up for Fall success or put them behind the proverbial 8-Ball early. That being said/written, if the B’s can hold their own through Halloween, then a lighter and more playable lineup of games will arrive by Turkey Day celebrations in the states, including a marquee NHL Thanksgiving Showdown matinee versus the Rangers on NBC (a rematch from 2013 that featured a Rockwellian pie-off between Cam Neely & Mike Richter, as seen below).

 

November 4th & 5th: “Back-To-Back!”

The Bruins play their first “Back-To-Back” series of the season starting at home versus the always pesky Pittsburgh Penguins followed by a trip across the border to face off against their hated arch-rivals the Montreal Canadiens. It’ll be the first time Boston plays either of these competitive opponents on the year and will no doubt include plenty of penalties, power plays & pugilism, if history is any indicator. These are the kind of games that show, on full display, just how your team “measures up” to very similar competition, both in terms of skill & talent and strategy & coaching. If the B’s can make a statement in Boston versus the Pens, then perhaps the usual tired legs of next-day hockey versus the Habs will turn into two big Eastern Conference victories (and four big points).

November 15th & 16th: “Back-To-Back 2: Back At It!”

This Friday-Saturday sequel in the “Back To Back” series (within a series) features a rip-roaring road match-up with the Maple Leafs in Toronto followed by the Washington Capitals coming to TD Garden twenty four hours later. These two talented teams have played the Bruins up to and at their best almost every time on the ice over the last decade, particularly during the regular season. W’s are never guaranteed versus the Leafs & Caps and are as hard-fought as you can get in the East, especially when playing on consecutive nights. This weekend will either set the B’s up for a very fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday week or prove they need to give out the thanks to their hungry opponents.

November 26th & 27th: “Back-to-Back 3: Backed Up!”

And for your viewing & repetitive pleasure, Boston goes “Back-To-Back” for the third time in November just before the aforementioned Gobble Game on the 29th at home. This time, it’s a roadie twofer in the Great White North against those hated Habs again followed by the (most likely 4-16-2) inauspicious Ottawa Senators. Since the B’s will only have one off day after these two games (all holiday travel) before they’re served up on the national TV menu versus the Rangers, taking as many positives & points out of this quick Canadian kick would be highly beneficial and satisfying to all–especially against the senseless Sens.  It will also make it easier for everyone to digest what could be an uncomfortable post-Turkey-Day matinee, as the schedule over this short stretch for Boston is definitely stuffed.

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Report: Bruins Sign Goalie Maxime Lagacé

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Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Wolves

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

We learned over the weekend from The Athletic reporter Fluto Shinzawa that the Bruins would be in the goalie market come Monday. It looks like he was correct, according to TVA Sports hockey reporter Renaud Lavoie, the Boston Bruins have signed goaltender Maxime Lagacé to a one- year two-way contract worth $700,000.

Lagacé comes to the Bruins after spending most of the 2018-19 season with the Vegas Golden Knights affiliate Chicago Wolves. In 33 games with the Wolves, the netminder was 16-10-6 with a 2.43 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Lagacé’s only real significant NHL experience came in 2017-18 with the Vegas Golden Knights where in 16 games he was 6-7-1 with a 3.91 GAA and a .867 save percentage. Lagacé will likely spend most of the season in Providence, and be an emergency backup for Boston in case either Tuukka Rask or Jaroslav Halak get injured.

 

 

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.

Boston Bruins: Keys to Win Game 7 Over St. Louis

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

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

How are your nerves? Are your fingernails still intact? No? That’s alright, it’s normal – expected at this time of year. Tonight, the Boston Bruins will meet the St. Louis Blues for the final game of the 2018-19 NHL season with a chance to win the Stanley Cup on home ice while the Blues look to lock in their first ever Stanley Cup in their 52-year history.

Before the best-of-seven series began, it was well noted that these two franchises were near exact mirror images of one another. Great goaltending, solid players on the blueline and a forward core that brought a combination of toughness, hitting and goal scoring throughout all four lines. Many people, including myself, felt that this series was destined to go the distance and as we found out on Sunday, it sure will.

In Sunday’s Game Six in St. Louis, Missouri, Boston took a huge 5-1 win on the road to force this seventh game. Tuukka Rask was beyond stellar in net for the Bruins while third period goals from Brandon Carlo, Karson Kuhlman and David Pastrnak sealed the deal before Zdeno Chara’s empty-net goal. The Bruins managed to quiet the roaring St. Louis crowd once again and made the series a true toss-up again.

Following Game Five, the Bruins had lost their second-consecutive game in the series and due to the fact that it was heading back to the Blues home arena, it seemed like the momentum was in St. Louis’ favor. Now, once again, there is no real momentum nor favorite to win Game Seven in TD Garden.

The entire series so far has been fascinating to watch. Boston overcame a two-goal deficit to win Game One only for the Blues to take an overtime win in Game Two. The B’s exploded back when the series debuted in the Enterprise Arena with a crushing 7-2 victory only for the Blues to win both Game Four and Five to take a 3-2 series lead. After the Game Six performance where the top-six of Boston finally woke up and played at the level that we are used to seeing while Rask continued to be elite – a reoccurring theme in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

All across the spectrum, the Bruins and Blues have an equally strong chance to hoist the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night in Boston. Neither team has let set downs hold them down long-term. As we know, the Blues were once dead-last in the National Hockey League on January 2nd and look where they are now. So, for the Boston Bruins, what needs to happen during the three periods (and maybe more) in order to win Stanley Cup number seven?

1. Tuukka. Rask.

As previously mentioned, Tuukka Rask has been one of the sole reasons for being Eastern Conference Champions and having three wins in the Finals as of this point. Going way back to the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rask was key in numerous wins including a dominate Game 7 performance, stopping 32 of the 33 shots he faced to send Boston to the second round.

Against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Rask finished the six-game series with a .948 save percentage and a 1.83 goals-against-average, closing out the series with a phenomenal 39-save shutout in Game Six. That dominance continued in the Conference Finals over the Carolina Hurricanes, allowing only five goals in four games with another shutout in the final elimination game.

In every game during the Stanley Cup Finals, Rask has allowed over one goal but no more than three goals except for Sunday’s win where he allowed only one goal against on 29 shots. Tuukka was by far Boston’s best penalty-killer in Game Six and crushed the momentum for the Blues. Rask is now 3-0 in elimination games in the 2019 postseason with a 1.34 GAA and .953 save percentage.

St. Louis has had great success with their forecheck against Boston’s defense and that is likely to continue, but if Tuukka Rask can be as dominate as ever, he will be the biggest factor to a Bruins win if it does happen and they need him to perform at that extreme level.

2. Shut Down The Neutral Zone

Part of the reason for the success in the 5-1 win three days ago was the strength in the neutral zone. The Bruins did an excellent job at making the Blues offense work hard for their zone entries and make it a difficult task to dump the puck in deep. Boston’s second line of Jake DeBrusk, Karson Kuhlman and David Krejci did a particularly good job at that while the defensive pairings managed to retrieve the loose pucks on the dump-ins.

Boston’s third goal of the game came from Kuhlman, but was created off of a neutral zone turnover by St. Louis. For the majority of the game, the Boston players were quite aggressive on pucks and gave the Blues very little room to work. This was evident on this goal as DeBrusk goes after his man who turns it over to David Krejci. Krejci quickly brings it into the zone and feeds Kuhlman who snipes one far-side.

Boston cannot back down when the Blues go for their zone exits and rushes up the ice. St. Louis has big forwards such as leading scorer Ryan O’Reilly who can blast down the ice and get hard drives to the net that create scoring opportunities. Limiting the space that St. Louis has to exit the zone will force more mistakes and allow Boston to pounce on the resulting chances.

However, Boston cannot make mistakes of their own while doing this. If a player misses a check and gets them self out of position, then the Blues could have an odd-man rush going the other way. Calm, but tenacious hockey in the neutral zone is what will win this for Boston.

3. Win The Smaller Battles & Trust Leaders

Once again, the Bruins found the success that they did in Game Six because of the smaller plays. It was not until the third period where Boston scored goals two, three, four, and five. From the 8:40 mark of the first period to just over two minutes into the third, Boston managed to maintain a one-goal advantage on the scoreboard. That was in part, due to the victory of smaller battles throughout the entirety of the game.

As showed above, Boston did a much better job controlling the neutral zone to adequately shut down the chances St. Louis had coming down the ice. Also, Boston did a solid job winning the battles along the boards, in both the offensive and defensive zones and that allowed the Bruins to score goals and also keep the Blues to the outside and forced them to take point shots that were either blocked, intercepted, or stopped by Rask in between the pipes.

On David Pastrnak’s goal that gave the Bruins a 4-1 lead in the third, forward Sean Kuraly used that same concept to drive into the zone, pressure the St. Louis defence, make a clean pass to Marchand who made an equally impressive feed to an open Pastrnak to beat Binnington. The rest of the players in the blue jerseys were unable to come back and defend the play because they were expected a pass up the ice and because they were finishing up a change. The tenacious effort on pucks will be crucial for Boston to claim victory.

In addition to that, the 2018-19 Boston Bruins are much different from the 2010-11 Bruins that won the Stanley Cup. The 2011 Bruins were filled to the rim with veterans of the game who had the experience to guide them to the championship. This time around, a lot of the key players – David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Karson Kuhlman, Jake DeBrusk, etc. – are leading the team. However, they will need to listen to the guidance and expertise of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Brad Marchand who have been there before and have won before. Every piece of advice and knowledge may be the ultimate difference maker.

Regardless of the outcome, at the end of the day, very few individuals in the hockey community expected the Boston Bruins to be one win away from the Stanley Cup this season. The same could be said for the St. Louis Blues as well. After all, the Tampa Bay Lightning were by far the best team in the regular season and they were swept early. When the final buzzer rings tonight, the winner will be the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions. The only question remains – will it be the Bruins or Blues hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads?

“Score” Another Record For Playoff Bruins

(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

When you hit “21” in BlackJack, you’re an automatic winner. For the Black N’ Gold, that number hits upon a lot of winners this postseason as well.

Namely, the twenty one different goal-scorers the Bruins have had since the playoffs began earlier this Spring (and since they’re just about playing into Summer, that’s saying something). Not since the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers has any team balanced the score sheet so consistently and productively as this year’s beloved B’s. The “next man up” mantra should add the phrase to score at the end of it because no matter who Boston has inserted into the lineup on any given playoff night, that player has found a way to impact the game –and the net– in short order.

And it’s not just the top guys we’re talking about here… it’s the Karson Kuhlmans and Steven Kampfers and Brandon Carlos who are contributing just as important and timely of goals as the Patrice Bergerons, Brad Marchands & David Pastrnaks of the team. THAT is why the Bruins have beaten the likes of the Leafs, Blue Jackets & Hurricanes. THAT is why the B’s are pushing St. Louis to the brink. THAT is why Boston is on the verge of winning the Stanley Cup in what is, and what will undoubtedly be, a truly historic Game 7 on home ice at TD Garden (in fact, it’s the first ever Bruins SCF Game 7 at home in franchise history).

So, to recap, who exactly are these 21 goal scorers? It’s probably easier to just write “everyone not named John Moore or Tuukka Rask.” But, thanks to our friends at NBC Sports Boston, we can now show you in all its Gloria-gouging glory:

That’s right… the B’s had 13 different goal scorers in Round One versus Toronto; 3 more in Round Two versus Columbus; another 3 in Round Three against Carolina; and thus far 2 more battling the Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals. Add ’em up… 13 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 21. Dealing out all the player cards below, that’s an impressive sight no sleight of hand needed!

(Photo Credits: Boston Bruins)

In fact, you’ve truly got to hand it to the Bruins and their depth, something Head Coach Bruce Cassidy and management have been preaching ever since the season began way back in the Fall in China! And with hockey’s most celebrated season about to end in Boston on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019… wouldn’t it be “a banner” night indeed if the B’s could bring home Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup for the second time this decade, giving each of 21 goal scorers above the ultimate “win” in all of professional sports?

I’ll stand on that!

Kuhlman Making An Impact For Bruins In Cup Final

( Photo Credit: Boston Informer )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Oftentimes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, experience makes all the difference. Typically speaking, experienced players get more opportunities because of their past performance, and they are counted on much more than inexperienced players. The Boston Bruins are no stranger to playoff experience. Three of the most important players on the team, Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara have over 300 games of postseason experience.

These guys have been through all sorts of playoff battles and therefore are relied upon much more than any other players. David Backes is another example of a very experienced player who is a very respected player in the locker room. However, sometimes experience isn’t everything, and Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy made a huge decision that went against some people’s logical thinking. After scratching Backes in Game Five to play seven defensemen, Cassidy chose to insert rookie Karson Kuhlman into the lineup in favor of putting Backes back into the lineup.

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Rightfully so there were some folks unsure about Kuhlman’s insertion and unsure how he would react to playing on such an important stage, an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Final. Not only did Kuhlman play a decent game in Game Six, but he was also one of the best forwards on the ice. Playing on a big stage is nothing new for the former Minnesota Duluth Bulldog who just a year ago, helped the school win the NCAA National Championship and was named the Tournament’s MVP. Not to say the stage is the same, but you can’t deny that experience certainly helped him feel less nervous and probably not allow the nerves to affect him as much. Kuhlman showcased his best skills last night, skating, speed and his unparalleled hunger for the puck. Kuhlman is not the physical player Backes is, but he certainly more than makes up for it in the other aforementioned areas.

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Before you get the wrong idea, this is not an anti-David Backes article because myself I’ve been a fan of his since his St. Louis days. But sometimes a coach needs to recognize which skills are more useful in a certain situation. Backes certainly has made a positive impact for the B’s in the playoffs, but unfortunately, that was two rounds ago. When the Bruins trailed two games to one against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Backes was inserted into the lineup to combat the physical play, and he did just that and was one of the main reasons the Bruins ended up clinching that series by winning three straight games. Since that series, Backes has one point and hasn’t made much of an impact. The Bruins could get by with Backes in the lineup against Carolina but when playing a team that’s as physical as St. Louis, trying to match their strength isn’t the right way to go.

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Physical play is the name of the game for the St. Louis Blues, they play with grit, are hard on the puck and hit everything that moves. Interestingly enough, it perfectly describes the 2011 Boston Bruins, and yes, we all know what happened with that team. Getting down in the muck and trying to outhit and out physical, the Blues is a strategy that hasn’t worked for the Bruins in this series, and it hasn’t worked for them in the past(Tampa Bay last season). This isn’t to say the Bruins aren’t a tough team and can’t hit well, they are a physical team, but they are at their best when they play with pace and energy.

Inserting Kuhlman into the lineup seemed to inject energy into the second line, and they responded with their best game of the series. The more the Bruins can play with pace, the better chance they have to win, and at the end of the day, the goal is to give yourself the best chance to win. People might disagree about who should play, but we can all agree we want the team to win and want the team to put out the best lineup possible.

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.

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 4: Boston at St. Louis: 6/3/19

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(Photo Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

Home: St. Louis Blues

Away: Boston Bruins

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak

DeBrusk – Krejci – Backes

Johansson – Coyle – Heinen

Nordstrom – Kuraly – Acciari

Defense

Chara – McAvoy

Krug – Carlo

Moore – Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

St Louis’s Lineup

Forwards

Schwartz – Schenn – Tarasenko

Sanford – O’Reilly – Perron

Blais – Bozak – Maroon

Barbashev – Sundqvist – Steen

Defense

Edmundson – Pietrangelo

Bouwmeester –  Parayko

Dunn –  Gunnarsson

Goalies

Binnington

Allen

First Period

The goal scoring started really early, 43 seconds in off of a wraparound from Ryan O’Reilly. Tuukka Rask made the initial save on a point shot from Vince Dunn, but O’Reilly buried the quick wraparound very shortly after. The Bruins were forced to battle some early momentum from St. Louis from the get-go. Just what the Blues wanted.

The Blues continued to push the pace after scoring the first goal, outshooting the Bruins 7-3 through the first 6:53 and outhitting them 11-5. After that, the Bruins made some headway in terms of creating offense, but struggled with finding puck luck.

That all changed when Charlie Coyle got on the board for the ninth time in the playoffs. Danton Heinen took a hit to make a play and Coyle’s chance initially came off of a Zdeno Chara shot, before potting his own rebound. Chara’s assist was his fourth. It was 1-1 with 6:46 to go, goals in three straight games for Coyle.

Vladimir Tarasenko got lost in coverage and scored to take back the lead for the Blues with 13:14 left in the period. Tarasenko is the last person on the Blues you want to have a golden opportunity to score.

The Blues controlled play for much of the period, and also laid some pretty solid hits, which was a big reason as to why they were succeeding. They were the better team in the first period. Two big advantages for St. Louis in the first came in shots at 13-9 and in hits at 24-16.

Score: 2-1 St. Louis

Second Period

Things were fairly standard early until Chara had a Brayden Schenn shot deflect up and off of his face, bloodying the Bruins captain and forcing him to get repairs.

The first penalty of the game came 5:47 into the period when Coyle high-sticked Carl Gunnarsson. The Bruins killed off the penalty without one of their main penalty killers in Chara.

A Bruins power play came shortly after thanks to a delay of game penalty on Colton Parayko. The Bruins had a massive opportunity to tie the game, but they did not convert and the Blues held their one-goal lead.

Connor Clifton went to the box for an illegal check to the head of Tarasenko after a lengthy stint of offensive zone time for St. Louis. But who else but Brandon Carlo to tie the game with a shorthanded goal with 5:41 left? Carlo’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal was assisted. Patrice Bergeron (8) and Brad Marchand (13) has the assists. The goal made Carlo the 20th Bruin to score a playoff goal this season. That’s a franchise record.

It was not a perfect period for the Bruins, but Carlo’s late shorthanded goal was massive. The Bruins took the hit advantage this time, 13-8, but the Blues held the shot advantage, 12-10. After two, shots were 25-19, hits were 32-29, both in favor of the Blues. Chara did not return to game action after taking a puck up high. The Bruins needed to feed off of the energy from the Carlo goal into the third period.

Score: 2-2

Third Period

Good news for the Bruins came in the form of Zdeno Chara’s return, with a fishbowl on his helmet. Bad news came in the form of a Danton Heinen tripping penalty just 2:08 into the period. Rask made a series of huge saves on the penalty kill, helping the Bruins kill it off. Through four and a half minutes and after the Heinen penalty was killed, the Bruins held a 13-3 advantage in blocked shots.

Coyle drew a high sticking penalty with 13:18 remaining to give the Bruins their second power play of the game. Up to this point, Chara remained on the bench for the whole period. Not a whole lot of cohesiveness came on the power play, and as a result, the Bruins failed to score.

Oskar Sundqvist has certainly made some noise in different ways in this series. That’s one way to put it. David Backes decided to flatten him.

O’Reilly added to his monster performance in this game, and he got rewarded for it when he quickly buried a rebound. Poor coverage in front of the net did not help Rask after a tough shot to contain up high and O’Reilly found an open spot in the chaos. Not too long after, Rask made a big stop on Patrick Maroon on a 2-on-1. St. Louis remained ahead by a goal with 8:44 to go. Shots to this point in the period were 9-3 in favor of St. Louis.

Things were pretty bad for the Bruins for the remainder of the third. Not a lot of cohesiveness and a bad turnover by Clifton that led to Schenn’s empty-net goal. The Schenn goal came with 1:29, 4-2 St. Louis. With 25.7 seconds remaining, Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug went off following a scrum. Another scrum happened at the buzzer. Chara went the whole third period without a shift, he was there to rally his troops.

Next up is game five in Boston on Thursday at 8 PM ET. The shots were 13-4 in favor of St. Louis and the hits were even at 12. ST. Louis clawed their way back into the series with force. A pivotal game five awaits.

Final Score: 4-2 St. Louis