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Blues Are One Win Away from Lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup

Blues goalie, Jordan Binnington stops a puck from crossing the goal line in game five of the Stanley Cup Finals. (AP photo courtesy of Boston.com)

The St. Louis Blues won game five in Boston, and are now just one win away from hoisting the Stanley Cup. It would be the first time in the history of the franchise they would do so.

Jordan Binnington brought his “A” game and stopped 38 of 39 shots. Boston only managed one goal and failed on three power-play opportunities. Goals from Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron would be all St. Louis needed to secure the 2-1 victory.

CHARA’S AVAILABILITY IN QUESTION

Pregame, the story was all about the jawbone of a certain Zdeno Chara. Boston’s big man and captain of their ship took a puck to the face in game four. It was reported that he had a broken jaw and everyone was speculating about whether or not he would play.

Those who don’t know him thought there was no way he could play. Those who do know him said there was no way he wouldn’t play. Even his appearance on the ice earlier in the day and the pregame skate was labeled as “gamesmanship” by some. Well, not only did he play, but he played 16:42 and had four hits and two blocked shots.

Once the game started, Chara was no longer the story. Boston’s other defenseman with an injury, Matt Grzelcyk did not play. The Bruins dressed seven defensemen, apparently so as not to get caught shorthanded if someone else went down, or if Chara couldn’t go. It turns out, they needed more offense and couldn’t muster it. David Backes was the odd man out and watched the game from the press box.

FIRST PERIOD

The Bruins were aggressive early. They had 17 shots on goal in the first period. St. Louis only managed eight.

Binnington was solid in the net to keep the game scoreless through one period and played what might have been his best period of hockey in his young career.

There were two penalties called in the opening frame. Vince Dunn was called for delay of game after he swatted a bouncing puck that fluttered over the glass. Brad Marchand served a penalty late in the frame for slashing Binnington. Neither team could capitalize.

Boston was the more physical team in the first twenty minutes, but St. Louis won the faceoff battle 12-4.

SECOND PERIOD

If the first period was a ‘feeling out’ period, the second started as a ‘scoring’ one. The Blues got the first goal of the game just 55 seconds in. Zach Sanford got the puck behind the Boston net and made a beautiful no-look, between-the-legs pass to O’Reilly in front of the goal. O’Reilly took the puck from his forehand to his backhand and got Tuukka Rask down on the ice. From there, the guy who practices all kinds of hand-eye drills effortlessly lifted it over Rask and into the top of the net.

BOSTON’S TOP LINE

Much has been talked about leading up to, and throughout this series, the skill of Boston’s top liners. They are talented. There’s no doubt about it. But this play showed that St. Louis has guys with some pretty serious skill as well.

For all the talk about the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line being the best in hockey, they have been near invisible thus far in this series. Other than a short-handed goal in game four where Bergeron and Marchand got assists on the Carlo goal, the top line of Boston does not have an even-strength point. Marchand has an empty-net goal, but when playing 5-on-5, the Blues have shut down the ‘best line in hockey.’

The score was nearly 2-0 when David Krejci blocked Alex Pietrangelo’s shot in what was just milliseconds earlier an empty net. Krejci put himself in position and managed to stop the chance and kept it a one-goal game heading into the third.

THIRD PERIOD

What looked like it should have been a tripping call on Tyler Bozak did not get called midway through the third period. As play continued, the Blues took advantage with a goal by David Perron that glanced in off the pads of Rask and the Blues led 2-0 with less than 10 minutes to play.

St. Louis has been on the other end of non-calls in this playoffs. Nobody needs to be reminded of the hand pass that led to a game-winning goal in game 3 of the San Jose series. But you have to play on. After the trip, Noel Acciari couldn’t manage to get up quickly and essentially gave the Blues a man-advantage situation and the Blues took advantage.

Boston did get a goal from Jake Debrusk at the 13:32 mark on a delayed penalty call on the Blues. You could tell by Binnington’s reaction after the puck slipped through, that he thought he should have stopped it and wanted it back.

None the less, the goal closed the gap to a one-goal margin and St. Louis just had to hang on in the final moments to take a three games to 2 lead heading back home for game six and a chance to clinch the cup for the first time in history on home ice.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Many fans online and reporters in the postgame interviews were talking about the ‘dirty hits’ by the Blues and non-calls by the officials. I even heard a reporter ask a Boston player if he thought things had changed in the way games have been officiated since Craig Berube made a post-game comment about his confusion over how many penalties had been called on his team through three games.

I think the most excellent example of how to handle things like this came from Berube and his squad after the hand pass incident. He essentially said, “It’s over. You can’t do anything about it. Put it behind you. Let’s get ready for the next game.”

It’s such a more noble approach, don’t you think?

I think Jordan Binnington stole the game last night. They say that if you’re going to win the Stanley Cup, your goalie has to steal a game for you somewhere. Mark the date of June 6, 2019, and the place at TD Garden where #50 stole the one that the Blues needed. He was amazing and looked locked in from the onset. I wanted to comment about it early in the first period but didn’t want to jinx the outstanding performance we were watching.

For all the mistakes the defense made early in the season, I think we are watching an outstanding demonstration of defensive hockey by this Blues team. Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko, Carl Gunnarsson, Robert Bortuzzo, Vince Dunn, and Joel Edmundson are as good a d-corps as you’ll find in the NHL.

One more game. Can you believe it? Let’s go Blues!

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3 thoughts on “Blues Are One Win Away from Lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup

  1. Agree that Binner stole the game. The Bruins outplayed us, and we caught a break with the uncalled trip. I think we all knew that Binner would have to steal one for us to win this series. The teams are too closely matched for one to dominate.

    In sum, we won on the road without our best effort and coming off our best game (4) in the series. It all bodes well for this team, that seems to play better as a series progresses. I will be there Sunday night. I expect to be celebrating wildly around 10pm.

  2. Agree 100% that Binnington stepped up and carried the team to victory last night. I thought the Blues overall were more tentative than in previous games and that should have let Boston set-up and move the puck in the dangerous way they do (like was observed in earlier games in the series) but Boston looked tired…the Blues energy and hitting seems to be taking a toll. I think the Blues rebound and play with more fire on Sunday and will bring the win for the home fans!

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