On Monday May 27th, the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues will play Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Boston at 8:00 PM ET.
For the first time since 1970 the St. Louis Blues will be in the Stanley Cup Finals, however this is the Bruins third Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 2011.
Let’s take a look at how each team got here.
Finishing second in the Atlantic Division behind the Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston faced Toronto in the First Round, taking them down in a convincing 5-1 Game Seven win, after winning Game Six in Toronto 4-2 to force a Game Seven.
In the Second Round, the Bruins faced a little adversity going down 2-1 in the series against the Columbus Blue Jackets; who had just swept the heavily favored Lightning in the First Round.
However Boston would win the next three games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals; outscoring the Blue Jackets 11-4 in those games.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, this series was all Boston.
Boston would take down the playoff spoiling Carolina Hurricanes in a sweep, outscoring the Hurricanes 17-5, and dominating Carolina on the Power Play scoring on 7/15, compared to the Hurricanes going just 1/14 on the Power Play.
The highlight of the Boston Bruins is by far Goalie Tuukka Rask.
Thus far in the playoffs, Rask has a save percentage of .942, goals against average of 1.84, and has recorded two shutouts.
Carolina was completely shut down by Tuukka Rask; Rask would allow just five goals in four games, earning himself a save percentage of .956, and a goals against average of 1.25 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even more impressive Rask has had two consecutive series clinching shutouts against the Blue Jackets, and Hurricanes facing 39, and 24 shots in each game respectively.
Now let’s take a look at how the St. Louis Blues got here.
St. Louis Blues:
After fighting back from last place in the NHL on January 1st to finish the season third in the Central Division, the Blues were primed for a deep playoff run as only Boston and Tampa Bay had won more games in that time period in the entire NHL.
In the First Round the Blues simply outperformed the inconsistent Winnipeg Jets, taking them down in six games after the series was tied 2-2 after Game 4.
In the Second Round the St. Louis and Dallas would go the distance with neither team winning back-to-back games.
By the end of the series, the Blues were simply over powering the Stars and it was only a matter of time before Ben Bishop gave up the goals St. Louis needed.
Game Seven saw double overtime with the hometown hero Patrick Maroon scoring 5:50 into the second overtime; the Blues out shot the Stars 54-30.
In the Western Conference Finals, San Jose Goalie Martin Jones was exposed by the St. Louis’ offensive weapons.
Jones had a save percentage of .856, and a goals against average of 3.83; no team is advancing to the Stanley Cup with those numbers.
At the other end of the ice, Binnington earned himself a save percentage of .906, a goals against average of 2.50, along with a shutout in Game Five.
Worth noting is that Vladimir Tarasenko has himself 13 points this post season, with 8 of them coming in the Western Conference Finals; including two goals, and three assists through Games Four to Six.
Even in Special Teams, the Blues outperformed the Sharks going 5/21 on the Power Play, compared to the Sharks going 2/13 on the Power Play.
Now lets’s take a look at how these two teams match up:
Power Play: Boston 34.0%, St. Louis 19.4%.
Penalty Kill: Boston 86.3%, St. Louis 78.0%
Goals For: 57-57
Goals Against: Boston 33, St. Louis 48
Games Played: Boston 17, St. Louis 19
Shots Per Game: Boston 33.6, St. Louis 30.9
Shots Against Per Game: Boston 32.4, St. Louis 28.4
Number Of Ten Point Scorers (In Playoffs): Boston 6, St. Louis 7
Tuukka Rask: .942 Save Percentage, 1.84 Goals Against Average, 2 Shutouts, 549 Shots Against
Jordan Binnington: .914 Save Percentage, 2.36 Goals Against Average, 1 Shutout, 537 Shots Against
Prediction: Boston 4-2
The three biggest factors to this prediction is how well Rask has played thus far, and has continued to improve as the Playoffs go on, the Bruins being absolutely dominant on the Power Play, and the fact that Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak have combined for 46 points in 17 games played this Playoffs.
My biggest concern for the Bruins would be that every team that swept another team this Playoffs, were eliminated the very next round; not including the fact that Boston will have 11 days off from Game 4 against the Hurricanes to Game 1 against the Blues.
For advertising and sponsorship opportunities with the Game Changer Sports Network, please contact Jake at Jake.Jollymore@Gmail.com
Photo Source: http://www.youtube.com