The third game of the Stanley Cup Finals is set to drop the puck on Saturday as the series shifts to St. Louis. The Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues have not disappointed so far in these playoffs. These two teams will battle it out to earn a game advantage in the series. This game is set to start at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Bruins finished out the regular season in second place of the Atlantic Division with a record of 49-24-9. Boston met up with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and moved on in a tough seven-game series. The Bruins then played the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes in the next two rounds, which ended in six and four games respectively. Boston will look to steal Game 3 on the road to take back the series lead.
St. Louis has highlighted the storylines in the playoffs as they were in the last place of the NHL around the halfway point of the season. The Blues battled back to finish in third place of the Central Division with a 45-28-9 record. St. Louis played the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, and San Jose Sharks to reach this point in the playoffs. Now the Blues will look to take one step closer to their first ever Stanley Cup with a win on Saturday night.
The Bruins and the Blues have both been crowned the best teams of their respective conferences, but they now have their eyes set on a bigger prize. The first two games of this series delivered as both teams played a real gritty game. These two teams went 1-1 against each other in the regular season, which helps show that they match up well together.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals was hosted by Boston on May 27. Brayden Schenn got the scoring started and added an assist on a Vladimir Tarasenko goal as the Blues started with a 2-0 lead. Goals by Connor Clifton, Charlie McAvoy, and Sean Kuraly helped the Bruins earn the comeback win though. Jordan Binnington had 34 saves on 37 shots, while Tuukka Rask stopped 18 of 20. Boston took Game 1 4-2.
The Bruins hosted Game 2 on May 29. The first period in this matchup came with plenty of excitement. Charlie Coyle got the game started with a goal five minutes in. Robert Bortuzzo responded to tie it up, but Joakim Nordstrom netted one of his own right after to regain the 2-1 lead. Vladimir Tarasenko tied it up before the first ended and no other goals came before overtime when Carl Gunnarsson scored his first of the playoffs to give the Blues the win 3-2.
These two teams played two real competitive games in Boston and I expect that to continue as the series shifts to St. Louis. The Blues fans will be all in though after their overtime road upset and they will try and give St. Louis the advantage. Both teams will look to come out fast again similar to the last game and both teams will look to have a better special teams’ performance.
The Bruins finished out the regular season with a solid performance on the power play. Boston was able to score on around 25.9 percent of their power play opportunities in the regular season. The Bruins penalty kill stopped opposing teams around 79.9 percent of the time, which was near the league average. Boston’s power play has kept it up in the playoffs, scoring on 31.7 percent of their attempts.
St. Louis’ special teams had a good second half to the season, which helped lead to solid numbers. The Blues were able to stop around 81.5 percent of their opponent’s power-play chances, while scoring on 21.1 percent of their own. St. Louis’ power play has not done well in the playoffs, capitalizing on around 17.9 percent of their man advantages.
Boston had done much better on special teams and it has helped them so far in this series. The Bruins have scored twice on the power play, once in each game, while stopping St. Louis on all four of their power play chances. The Blues will look to try and solve Boston’s penalty kill, while also trying to avoid taking to many penalties.
Tuukka Rask has done a really solid job throughout the Bruins playoff run. Rask has put up a save percentage of .939 and a 1.91 GAA. He has a 13-6 record in the playoffs as well. In the two games of this series, Rask has a .912 save percentage and a GAA of 2.50. Rask has not been quite as solid against the Blues and will look to fix that on Saturday night.
Jordan Binnington played a huge role in St. Louis’ standings turn around this regular season. Binnington has continued to play really well in this playoff run. He has a .915 save percentage and a 2.37 GAA in the postseason. In the last two games, Binnington has a save percentage of .917 and a GAA of 2.50. He will look to keep up what he has been doing.
Overall, Rask has the better numbers throughout the playoffs, but Binnington has been outplaying him stat wise in this series. The Bruins have been outshooting the Blues and St. Louis will look to try and limit the number of shots they allow Boston to have on Saturday night. If the Blues can hold the Bruins to a small number of scoring chances, it could help Binnington put up another really strong stat line.
As the series shifts to St. Louis, the Blues will look to take advantage of their newly earned home-ice advantage. They say you aren’t in trouble until you lose at home, and Boston now needs to steal one on the road to make up for their loss in Game 2. I expect the Bruins to come out fast, but St. Louis to stay patient and keep to their game plan. If the Blues can stop Boston’s early rush, I believe they will have a prime chance to win.
BetOnline has the Blues listed as a -111 against the money line. This implies that St. Louis will win this game around 52.6 percent of the time. I believe that the Blues should be favored by more. Boston was a bigger favorite when they were at home and this shows the sports book likes the Bruins. As a small favorite, there is a good amount of value behind the Blues. I believe that the home fans will really help give St. Louis an edge as they take the lead in the series with a win in Game 3.