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Bruins Take Game One Over Blues

Bruins Take Game One

Sean Kuraly of the Boston Bruins scored the game-winning goal Monday night in Boston as the Bruins take game one of the series. Joel Edmundson and Jordan Binnington defended on the play. (AP photo)

The Boston Bruins took game one of the Stanley Cup Finals with a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night in Boston. The Memorial Day game came after what seemed like forever since these two teams last played. Boston had been off for 10 days while the Blues had been idle for five.

Although Boston had more rest, St. Louis looked like the fresher team early on as they controlled play throughout most of the first period. There was a lot of talk leading up to the series that ‘rust’ would be a factor for Boston with such a long layoff. For the most part, that was true. It would take a while for them to get things going. In the meantime, St. Louis got out to an early lead.

FIRST PERIOD

Brayden Schenn broke the ice and scored the first goal 7:23 into the game on a nice shot from the slot. He beat Tuukka Rask high on the blocker side to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

The goal was Schenn’s third of the playoffs. Jaden Schwartz and Jay Bouwmeester got the assists.

One thing the Blues wanted to avoid was taking penalties and putting the Bruins on the power play. They’ve been deadly throughout the playoffs, converting their opportunities at a 34% clip, the best in the NHL. But, a tripping call on David Perron 13 minutes in, and a hooking call on Robert Thomas near the 17-minute mark were two of five penalties the Blues were whistled for in the game. St. Louis killed off the first two but giving Boston that many man-advantage opportunities would not end well.

Shots on goal were even through the first period with each team having eight apiece.

SECOND PERIOD

Just one minute into the second, a turnover by David Pastrnak led to a Vladimir Tarasenko goal, his 9th of the playoffs.

It was Schenn with the assist on the goal as he had an excellent first period of hockey. It’s a good sign for the Blues if he can get things rolling. He’s struggled a bit this season and it has carried over into the playoffs, but he’s starting to heat up.

The Blues had a 2-0 lead in the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals. They were sitting on top of the world after twenty-one minutes of hockey. Problem is, hockey games are 60 minutes long.

Boston got a goal from Jordan Binnington’s old teammate from last season in Providence when Connor Clifton got behind the Blues defense and tipped in a pass from Sean Kuraly to cut the Blues lead to 2-1 at the 2:16 mark of the second.

We told you that Boston’s scoring depth was similar to the Blues in our series preview story. Here’s the chart again that we created.

Scoring by Line & Defense

 Boston BruinsBoston ScoringSt. Louis ScoringSt. Louis Blues
Line 1Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak22G 24A22G 14ASchwartz, Schenn, Tarassnko
Line 2Debrusk, Krejci, Backes9G 17A10G 20APerron, O'Reilly, Blais
Line 3Johansson, Coyle, Heinen11G 17A9G 14AMaroon, Bozak, Thomas
Line 4Nordstrom, Kuraly, Acciari/Kuhlman7G 8A9G 9ABarbashev, Sundqvist, Steen
DefenseChara, McAvoy, Krug, Carlo, Grzelcyk, Clifton, Kampfer8G 27A7G 37APietrangelo, Edmundson, Bouwmeester, Parayko, Bortuzzo, Gunnarsson, Dunn

Clifton is a third-pairing defenseman. Another defenseman, Charlie McAvoy tied the game at the 12:41 mark on a goal that Binnington wishes he could have back. The shot came through Alex Pietrangelo and surprised the Blues rookie goalie a bit. It was a power-play goal while Oskar Sundqvist sat in the penalty box for cross-checking on Clifton.

The Bruins controlled play throughout the middle period and outshot the Blues 18-3. After 40 minutes of hockey St. Louis’ two-goal lead was gone.

THIRD PERIOD

Again, the Bruins’ depth scoring provided the go-ahead goal at the 5:21 mark of the third. This time it was fourth-liner, Sean Kuraly who picked up a loose puck in front of the net and poked it past Binnington.

The Blues couldn’t find a way to get the tying goal. Craig Berube pulled Binnington at the 2:15 mark to no avail. Boston’s Brad Marchand eventually got an empty-net goal for the final score, sending Boston home 4-2 winners and up 1-0 in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.

Berube answered questions after the game as to what the Blues did right and what they did wrong in the game.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Every series is officiated differently. The Blues need to adapt to how this series will be called and stay out of the box. Although they held Boston to just 1 for 5 on the power play, statistics show that they will likely score on 2 or 3 of their next 5 opportunities. That will not be a winning formula for St. Louis.

The Blues have seen now that a 2-goal lead is not safe against this team.

Boston is a faster team. Their speed was forcing the Blues defense back into deeper gaps and creating more space. Those gaps need to be tightened up. Less space and more back-checking by the forwards will likely be part of the game plan moving forward in this series.

The Blues did a good job keeping the big scoring line of Brad Marchand, Pierre Bergeron, and David Pastrnak off the board (except for the empty-netter). That will be tough to do for an entire series.

The game was watched by a sellout crowd back in St. Louis at Enterprise Center and what looked like a packed Ballpark Village. It’s great to see the excitement that the people of St. Louis and the surrounding areas have for the game. I’ve seen online where people are coming from all over the world to witness a game in person, including a fan from the Netherlands (?) who is traveling to St. Louis thanks to donations from friends and fans, one of which was a $1350 donation by one anonymous donor. European TV has featured him for watching Blues games in the middle of the night and wee hours of the mornings on the other side of the world. Let’s go Blues!

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Tim Hirsch

I am a lifelong resident of Du Quoin, IL and have been a Blues fan since as long as I can remember. My dad started following the Blues in 1967. I was 3 years old, so I guess I've been a fan all my life.

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