Bruins continue Cup drive
The 2019 Stanley Cup Final hit the ice running on Monday night at TD Garden when the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues battled to a 4-2 decision in favor of the locals. After the long layoff following the sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes, the obvious question for most was: Are the Bruins going to have a tough time shaking off the inevitable ‘rust,’ and be able to get back rolling again? Well, that question got answered with Boston’s hard fought comeback victory on Monday.
Yes, the Bruins did show signs of rust in the first period and into the first minute of the second period of Game 1, with Blues goals from Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, 21 minutes into the game, for a quick 2-0 St. Louis lead. At that point the Bruins took over the pace of the game, scoring four unanswered goals and turning their rust into ‘dust.’ The Bs defense quickly stepped up to become the offense, with Connor Clifton scoring at 2:16 of the second period, to cut the Blues’ lead in half at 2-1, followed by Charlie McAvoy who added an unassisted goal on the power play at 12:41 to even the score 2-2.
The second period dominance was highlighted by Boston outshooting St. Louis 18 shots to 3, a margin that brought the final shots on net to 38-20 in favor of the Bruins. Boston’s first line (David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand) had a tough time getting started, and once again, it was the constant pressure of the fourth line that stood out. Sean Kuraly was the impetus, with a two-point night that included a goal and an assist – his goal scored at 5:21 of the third period proved to be the game-winner, with Marchand confirming the win with an empty-netter at 18:11.
As the Record went to press early Wednesday evening, Game 2 was being played at the Garden. Today (Thursday) the locals will either be the Bruins continuing their playoff victory streak, or the series will be tied at one game apiece. Whatever the outcome of Game 2, this Stanley Cup Final has all the makings of being a physical, tough series – whichever way the series goes, can be dictated by the Bruins, if they continue the style of play they exhibited in the final 39 minutes of the opening game it will be in their favor.
Plusses, that offset the disappointment of the play of Boston’s first line was the solid, impressive play of Marcus Johansson, and the solid work put in by the Bs’ blue line corps. A definite highlight reel event was Bruins defenseman Torey Krug’s solid hit on St. Louis’ Robert Thomas. It all began with a skirmish in front of Tuukka Rask with St. Louis’ David Perron straddling Krug, and finally ripping off his helmet. Krug quickly got to his feet and took off up the ice, sans helmet, to get back in the play, unfortunately for Thomas he was in Krug’s path and got wiped out with a resounding open ice hit. Thomas left the ice and did not return. No doubt a hit like that got the Boston juices flowing, and his teammates responded, and coach Bruce Cassidy approved with “I thought it was a good energy boost for our team.” Statistically, coming into last night’s (Wednesday) Game 2, the Bruins had only allowed 11 goals in eight games, their tight penalty kill rolling along at just over 96% having only allowed one power play goal in 26 attempts. The all –important power play unit continued to click with 10 goals in 29 opportunities at close to 35%. If the team continues to play what coach Cassidy calls “the right way,” the Bruins will enjoy much success, and a good chance to bring the Cup back to Boston. In net, Rask came into Wednesday’s Game 2 having made 238 stops while facing 249 shots, posting a .956 save percentage, to go along with a solid 1.38 goals-against-average. With two games played, it’s on to St. Louis for Game 3 (Saturday, June 1) and Game 4 (Monday, June 3), both games at 8:00pm. Game 5 (if necessary) will be played in Boston on Thursday, June 6.