The Stanley Cup Final is finally here after what feels like an eternity. The Boston Bruins have been off since sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes on May 16th. That’s a long layoff for the Bruins. They are on a seven-game winning streak entering the Final after following three wins in a row against the Blue Jackets and sweep of the Hurricanes.
There are two ways to read into this long layoff for the Bruins. First, the most obvious is that there could be a lot of rust gathering on the Bruins after having to sit out for this long. They were on fire and did staying out of action for two weeks cool them off? Second, and what the Bruins are hoping is true, that the layoff helped them get healthy and fresh for the Blues.
The Bruins are a physical team who like to initiate contact, so perhaps a break was good for their bones. Both scenarios may end up coming true. They could come out of the blocks sluggish and slow, but ultimately shake it off and use the extra energy they’ve gathered to propel them far. The Blues look like a team of destiny. From last in the standings on January 2nd to the Stanley Cup Final.
No team has ever been last at any point in the season and won the Stanley Cup. With just four more wins, the Blue have a chance to cap off an epic run by hoisting the grandest trophy in hockey. I was high on the Bruins all season long. With a win, Boston sports will complete a hat-trick with three championships in less than a year. The Patriots and Red Sox already won in their previous seasons, while the Celtics recently came up short.
I saw them as the most rounded team in the NHL and still have faith in them. The team of destiny thing didn’t work out too well for the Vegas Golden Knights last season, so the Blues can’t rely on that alone as a reason for winning the Cup.
They must match the Bruins’ intensity and physicality immediately in Game 1. Jordan Binnington, who has been a driving force in getting the Blues to the Final, also has to outplay Tuukka Rask. Binnington vs Rask is likely what this series is going to come down to. Head below for our free Blues vs. Bruins Game 1 Pick of the Stanley Cup Final.
St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins Game 1 Pick
The Hurricanes had no gas in the tank after springing two upsets in the playoffs. They were playing at full speed the final few weeks of the regular season, which was essentially an extension of the playoffs for them. Then defeating two quality teams like the Capitals and Islanders took a lot out of them. The Bruins were able to take advantage of that and make easy work of the Hurricanes in four games. A new challenge awaits, as the Blues are in front of them and their seventh Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Boston gave the Hurricanes no room to operate offensively. Their suffocating defence and Tuukka Rask were far too much. The Canes managed to score just 1.25 goals per game on Rask. The Bruins haven’t allowed more than 2 goals since Game 5 against the Blue Jackets.
Since that point, Boston have surrendered only 1 goal per game in five games. Rask enters the Stanley Cup Final with a save percentage of 0.942. Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonathan Quick are the only goaltenders in NHL postseason history to have better save percentages than Rask in the playoffs. Overall, dating back to the beginning of his career, Rask is tied for 5th with the best save percentage in playoff history.
The Bruins are 1st in the playoffs this season with just 1.94 goals against per game. Conversely, the Blues are 5th with 2.53 goals against per game. Binnington has been absolutely locked in recently, though. He has allowed just 2 goals in the last three games, which includes 77 shots against Binnington. Expect a bit of rust from the Bruins’ offence early in this series. This should be a feeling out process between both teams in Game 1. Look for a 3-1 or 3-2 game at TD Garden to get the 2019 edition of the Stanley Cup Final underway.