This past preseason, I developed a series of stories that we called “Off-Beats,” where I interviewed bloggers from other teams in our division. Since the playoffs started, I’ve been doing one with our upcoming opponents each round, and I’ve labeled them “PlayOFF-Beats.”
For the Stanley Cup Finals, I was fortunate to connect with Dan Ryan of the Bruins’ website, Stanley Cup of Chowder. Here’s what he had to say about the upcoming Finals matchup with the Blues.
JB- Give our readers a little intro into the site and yourself.
I’m the Managing Editor of Stanley Cup of Chowder, which is one of the biggest Bruins websites out there. We’re credentialed for home games by the team, and try to provide a unique coverage with a bit of humor thrown in.
JB- Bruins have never been a real stranger to deep playoff runs. Is there a reason this one feels unique?
I think most people are a little surprised because they assumed the Bruins would have run into Tampa on the way to the Cup Final, and obviously, that didn’t happen. This one feels a bit unique because their top line hasn’t exactly carried the Bruins. In past years, they relied heavily on the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line; they’ve been better lately but struggled mightily for stretches. The emergence of role players has been a pleasant surprise.
JB- What players do Blues fans need to keep an eye on besides Bergeron and Pastrnak?
David Krejci is a guy to watch. He’s been a reliable second-line center for the Bruins for more than a decade now, and often gets favorable match-ups when other teams focus on the first line. He’s an unbelievable passer, has a ton of patience with the puck, and always shows up in the playoffs.
Charlie Coyle is another guy Blues fans should be familiar with from his days in Minnesota, but he’s been great in the playoffs. Sean Kuraly is a fourth-liner who has a knack for scoring big goals and plays with a ton of energy.
JB- We love Backes, and he has hit a bit of a resurgence here in the playoffs. How has the hockey community taken to him, and how has his performance eased some anxiety that his lack of consistency may have caused in the regular season?
I’d say most Bruins fans have been unhappy with Backes’ performance for the majority of the season, but now most agree that he’s been solid in the playoffs. Since drawing back into the lineup, he’s done everything the Bruins could have hoped. He’s a guy who may have an extra gear now that he’s finally reached the Cup Final.
I think most fans are thrilled with how well he’s performed in the last two rounds.
JB- How good has Tuukka been?
He’s been unbelievable. He didn’t have an excellent series against Toronto, but he’s been on another level since that series ended. His numbers rival, or are better than Tim Thomas’ numbers from 2011, a postseason where the consensus is that he stole the Bruins a Stanley Cup. He’ll need to win another series here to get the Rask haters off his back, but goaltending has been the Bruins’ biggest strength so far this postseason.
JB- Our cities do this championship thing a lot. Instead of ‘mutual respect’ there seems to be a ‘little brother, older brother’ rivalry. Boston seems always to get the better of St. Louis. How does that play in Boston or at least to Boston fans? Are the Blues seen as a threat or just a nice story?
I think the Blues are seen as a threat, but most Bruins fans are confident in this team right now. There’s an element of the unknown though, as I’d be willing to be the average Bruins fan has no idea who Robert Thomas is, or has no idea that Jordan Binnington played in Providence last season. Most Bruins fans will like the way St. Louis plays, which should make it a good series.
It seems like since the Bruins got by Toronto, most Bruins fans expect them to win every series. The B’s and the Blues are a good match-up, and I hope this to be a close series. Most fans don’t think it will be a cakewalk.
As far as the St. Louis-Boston thing, that won’t come into play in this series, aside from fans trolling each other. The sports are different so that I wouldn’t expect much in that regard apart from fans mocking each other on Twitter.
JB- Give us a prediction and what has to go well for Boston to win.
For the Bruins to win, they’re going to need Rask to continue to be reliable and to be able to handle the St. Louis forecheck. The B’s have some small puck-movers on the back end, so it’s a wild card: if the Blues forecheckers can wear them down, it’s a bad sign; if the Bruins’ speedy guys can avoid that forecheck and start clean breakouts, St. Louis is in trouble.
I think it will be a series filled with tight games, but ultimately feel the Bruins have the horses to get it done in six games.