The Stanley Cup Finals will head to St. Louis all tied up at 1 game a piece.
After Boston controlled the majority of the opening matchup to claim a 4-2 victory, St. Louis took the momentum right back. Carl Gunnarsson scored the OT winner in a game that felt more one-sided towards the Blues than the score ever suggested on Wednesday night. The two teams will have an extra day of rest before Game 3 on Saturday.
The fact that the series is tied after 2 games should come as no surprise.
Stanley Cup Finals series are an absolute war more often than not. But in addition to that, the Bruins and the Blues are two strikingly similar teams to begin with. Both have found unbelievable chemistry on their top forward lines. Both play a disciplined and defensively sound style of hockey
Oh yeah, and both teams kinda like to throw their weight around.
Here’s a few other things we learned after the first 2 games:
The Blues are winning the physical battle.
St. Louis has hit everything that moves to this point. They have out-hit their opponent 83-63, and set the tone against a team often known for their physical play. Boston can certainly deliver some punishment now and again, but the Blues might be just a little too big across the board for the Bruins. The longer this series goes, the more this will work in St. Louis’ favor.
The Bruins are letting their bread and butter go to waste.
The postseason’s best power play looks incredibly average through 2 games. Boston is a combined 2 for 10 on the man advantage (20%), which on the surface doesn’t seem so bad. And it’s not. But for a crew that has been running on a clip around 30% or better when on the power play, 2 for 10 just isn’t going to cut it. And consider this: St. Louis had been the least penalized team in the playoffs coming into this series, which helped to mask a penalty kill that has been mediocre of late (78.4% in the playoffs). Somehow, the Bruins had 5 power plays fall into their laps in each of the first 2 games. And what have they done with such a gift? Not much. Give credit to guys like Ryan O’Reilly and Colton Parayko. They have done a quality job in winning loose pucks in the corners on the PK, and getting their sticks in the passing lanes to pick the cross-ice feeds the Bruins rely on much too heavily.
Jordan Binnington is mortal after all.
And let’s be clear, Binnington has been good so far. Excellent at times. And his confidence in stick-handling the puck has certainly been on display. But a second look at a view of his goals against makes him seem a little more beatable than he did coming into this series. Poor rebound control led to Sean Kuraly‘s game-winner in the opening contest. He let both Boston goals slip through the five-hole on Wednesday night. While he and his counterpart Tuukka Rask have each allowed the same number of goals to this point, it’s clear that Rask has been just a little sharper.
The Blues seem to have an answer for the “perfection” line, but no answer for the Boston’s third line.
Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak look out of sorts. The top line for the Bruins has been suffocated in the first two games offensively, with the only point between the three of them being Marchand’s empty-net goal to end Game 1. The top line of St. Louis has won this matchup from start to finish, enough so to the point that Cassidy has moved away from Bergeron’s line squaring off against Tarasenko’s. In fact, the Blues have scored a total of 4 five-on-five goals so far. The Bergeron line has been on the ice for 3 of them. If it wasn’t for the sustained pressure from the combination of Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle, and Danton Heinen, Boston might have found themselves in an 0-2 hole going to St. Louis. Johansson has easily been Boston’s best forward on the ice through two games.
Home ice advantage now shifts in favor of St. Louis. Game 3 will be played on Saturday at 8 p.m.