Gameday: Blues at Bruins

Blues forward David Perron (57) fights for the puck with Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) and forward Patrice Bergeron (37). (Photo courtesy: Michael Dwyer, AP Photo)

10/26: Blues/Bruins, 6pm CT, TD Garden – NBCSN, ESPN 101.1

It’s a showdown just over four months in the making: the St. Louis Blues (5-2-3) and Boston Bruins (6-1-2) face off in a Stanley Cup Final rematch at TD Garden. The Blues wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 2-1-1 record after a Thursday night win over the Kings, 5-2. The Blues netted three powerplay goals in the game, but lost their superstar Vladimir Tarasenko in an apparent upper-body injury.

“Any time you lose a player it sucks,” forward Robert Thomas told the STL Post-Dispatch.  “Obviously a player like Vladi, it’s even worse. But I thought we came together nicely and really picked up for him when he was gone. Hopefully he’s back soon, but I think as a forward group we responded really well.”

Boston picked up a big win over their rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a 4-2 win on Tuesday. The Bruins, after suffering a heartbreaking loss to St. Louis in game 7 at home, aren’t concerned with the Blues coming back to Boston.

“It’s just another game,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said on Friday, per NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty. “Doesn’t change anything that’s happened in the past. You’re not going to get any retribution by winning the game [tonight]. At the end of the day, it’s 2 points.”

The Blues and Bruins face off for the first time this season at 6pm CT in Boston. St. Louis and Boston traded home wins during the regular season last year, most recently with the Blues winning in a shootout last February. Binnington and Rask will most likely duel between the pipes again for tonight’s game, which will be televised nationally on NBCSN.

Cold Shoulder

Vladimir Tarasenko, who was riding a hot streak with 8 points in five games, saw that streak end after sustaining an upper-body injury early in the Kings game on Thursday. After receiving a partial breakaway, the Russian winger appeared to wrestle off Sean Walker with his shoulder, and headed to the bench immediately after. Tarasenko would exit the game a short time later, with word that he received an upper-body injury.

Tarasenko is up for re-evaluation on Monday, and was not on this road trip to Boston and Detroit. He tweaked his shoulder during the Stanley Cup Final, and even suffered a similar shoulder injury in the latter half of the regular season. After undergoing successful shoulder surgery in the ’17-18 offseason, it looks like Vladimir Tarasenko’s shoulder problems may have a rising concern.

With Tarasenko and Sammy Blais injured, the St. Louis Blues will need several forwards to step up and fill in for their top sniper. Coach Craig Berube, however, was confident that his players will rise to the challenge. “We’ve got a good team, good players. Someone will step in,” Berube said during the postgame conference. Oskar Sundqvist slotted in for Tarasenko during the remainder of the Blues game, logging 16:26 of ice time.

BRuined Their Day

Not a lot of NHL fans are big fans of Gary Bettman, especially not Leafs fans. Under the new playoff format, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been bounced by the Bruins in the first round three times in the last seven seasons (all in game 7). Under the new format, the second- and third-seeded teams in the division face off in round 1, giving the lower seeded team a big hurdle to climb. At the Heritage Classic Event, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had this to say about the current playoff format:

“We think the format we have works very well… unless you’re a Leafs fan,” according to the Canadian Press’ Donna Spencer.

Yowch. While it’s been a rough couple of seasons for the Leafs and their fanbase, they aren’t the only ones with disdain for the current playoff format. Bruins president Cam Neely sounded off to Boston reporters shortly before the 2019 playoffs began: “Obviously, the last couple years, you look at it and say it’s maybe not fair when you’re [one of] the top teams in the league and you fight hard to get home ice advantage… and then you end up playing some tough teams before you even get out of your division,” Neely said.

The Bruins, of course, got lucky with Tampa Bay bowing out in stunning fashion after having one of the best regular seasons in history. However, the challenge of facing potential President’s Trophy winners in the Atlantic before the third round is still a real threat for Boston.

Blue Notes

David Perron is 2 points away from 500 in his career and 300 as a Blue.

Jay Bouwmeester is 6 games away from his 1200th career game played. He will join 85 players in NHL history to play 1200+ games.

Alex Pietrangelo will play his 699th game as a Blue against Boston.

The Blues and Bruins face off at 7pm ET at TD Garden. To follow the action, head to:

STL: NBCSN, ESPN 101.1, NHL.com

BOS: NBCSN, WHLL 1450, NHL.com

For local Blues stories, recaps, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!

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