Bruins look to bring the Cup home
The vivid memory of Bobby Orr flying through the air on Mother’s Day in 1970, scoring the goal that brought the Bruins the Stanley Cup, was 49 years ago. The goal and that photo are considered to be one of the top moments in NHL history. The irony of those memories is that all this happened against the St. Louis Blues. The same organization the Bruins will face on Monday night, to begin the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals.
The difference this year is the 2019 Blues team is enjoying a magical season that featured a stunning turnaround. In January, during regular season play they were mired in last place. Move number one by Blues management was to hire Craig Berube – who played on five NHL teams, as coach in November, having fired Mike Yeo. Move number two in January, and probably the most important one, was replacing goaltender Jake Allen with the 25-year-old Jordan Binnington who previously had only one NHL game (with St. Louis) on his resume. Boston fans may be familiar with Binnington, who played 28 games in net while on loan to the Providence Bruins – posting an impressive 17-9 record in 28 games, with a 2.05 goals-against-average, and a .926 save percentage. A third round draft pick (#88) by St. Louis in 2011. With Berube behind the bench, the team posted a record of 38-19-6, and since Binnington stepped into the job, he put up numbers of 24-5-1, and he continued to be strong enough to get the Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals. His NHL playoff resume to date is 12-7, and interestingly enough, the Blue were 0-12 in previous Stanley Cup appearances.
For the Bruins, they were strong enough and resilient enough in 2011, with Tim Thomas in goal to bring the Cup to Boston in a seven-game series. The pain of 2013 still hurts, as the Bruins lost the Cup in the final minutes of Game 6 that year, allowing two goals, to give the Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks. This 2019 Bruins team is in good position to bring the Cup back to Boston, Tuukka Rask has had a solid regular season, and thus far in the playoffs, he’s been unbelievable in net for the locals. Despite all the pessimism regarding the Bs long layoff between Round Three and the Cup Finals, Tuukka, and the team, are expected to regain the confidence they showed in the previous three rounds, in time for the all-important Stanley Cup Final round.
In an attempt to ward off the 11-day layoff’s possible rust factor, the Bruins will play an intra-squad scrimmage tonight (Thursday at 7:00pm) at TD Garden. The Bruins will split into two teams – Team White and Team Black (also using some select Providence Bruins players), and play two 25-minute periods of controlled scrimmage, with two referees on the ice to officiate play. This ticketed event is open to the public with tickets on sale for $20., and parking in the North Station Garage at $10. Not expected to be in the lineup are Kevan Miller and Chris Wagner, with the latter’s injury possibly being postseason-ending.
With the Blues finally knocking off the injury-plagued San Jose Sharks to win the Western Conference title, the Bruins can now study their opponent more closely, and make strong decisions on matchups, etc. Naturally, the first thought that comes to mind is Bruins forward David Backes, with his first opportunity to face his former team in the Cup Finals, having spent ten seasons with the Blues, five of them as captain. The Bruins will need to play a heavy game, while keeping an eye on Blues’ veteran Vladimir Tarasenko, a goal-scoring machine, along with Jaden Schwartz who is on a tear, having already put in a dozen goals in 18 playoff games, including two hat tricks. When you look at the St. Louis lineup there are few weak spots, their strong defense includes captain Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Boumeester, Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson, and they are good-sized blueliners. Forward Pat Maroon has performed well in the playoffs with seven points (3-4), his highlight being the double-overtime Game 7 winning goal against the Dallas Stars.
The entire schedule for the Stanley Cup Finals has the Bruins on home ice for both Game One Monday (May 27 at 8:00pm), and Game Two Wednesday (May 29 at 8:00pm). Following two travel days, both Game Three and Game Four shift to St. Louis Game Three on Saturday (June 1 at 8:00pm), and Game Four (Monday June 3 at 8:00pm). If necessary, Game Five will be played back on TD Garden ice following another two-day travel schedule on Thursday (June 6 at 8:00pm), with Game Six (if necessary) in St. Louis on Sunday (June 9 at 8:00pm), and Game Seven (if necessary) on Wednesday (June 12 at 8:00pm). Thoughts from here, Bruins should win in six? Finally, kudos once again to Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, in having been named as a finalist for the ‘2019 General Manager of the Year Award.’