Game 7 Heaven: St. Louis Blues Defeat Boston Bruins 4-1 to Win First Stanley Cup
Alex Pietrangelo, captain of the St. Louis Blues, lifts the Stanley Cup after defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game Seven of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
For all you hockey prognosticators who cleverly picked the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup last night in Game 7 over the Boston Bruins — and there were many who did on our Facebook page — take a bow, the Blues won 4-1 and are Stanley Cup champs.
Not only did the Blues win the Cup in Game 7 on the road — a remarkable accomplishment in itself — but the team got to this point after being in last place in the entire league in January. At that point, it looked like they were done for the season but inspired by interim head coach Craig Berube and sparked by the unexpected play of goalie Jordan Binnington, the Blues somehow rediscovered their game and went on a roll that took them all the way to Stanley-Cup glory.
“At Last, the St. Louis Blues are Champions” screamed the headline in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “From worst, to first, to forever. Their names will be engraved into the Stanley Cup, assigned to newborns they’ll never know.”
Although they had been to the Stanley Cup Finals three times before and had a number of near misses along the way, the Blues had gone their entire 52-year history without tasting champagne. That all changed last night and their suddenly hockey-mad city celebrated well into the night.
St. Louis-born Patrick Maroon, who scored the overtime goal that sent them to the finals, was especially ecstatic after the victory, calling out the media for doubting the team could win:
“We did it. I mean, there’s nothing else. I mean, we put everything on the line from January 3 on and we deserve this and what a way to finish it. On the road, where we play great, and all these people, all these media, doubted us all year long and we shoved it right up their ass. I mean, it’s amazing. Who wouldn’t like this? Being from St. Louis, and signing in St. Louis, and winning the Stanley Cup and bringing it home and being with my family and friends, I can’t wait for these next few days. This is truly something I’ll never forget. Me and my son will take this to our grave and we’ll have memories for life.”
Led by the superb rookie goalie Binnington, a stifling defence, a grinding physical style of play, timely scoring and the stellar two-way play of centre Ryan O’Reilly, the Blues completely smothered Boston last night to win the championship.
Early on, it certainly seemed like the Bruins were the better team. They poured into the offensive zone during the first period and directed a barrage of shots but could not beat Binnington, who came up with five or six highlight-reel saves.
Surviving the early onslaught, the Blues managed to score on a deflection by the eventual Conn Smythe trophy winner O’Reilly, his 5th goal of the series. Late in the first period they scored the back-breaker, an odd-man rush that led to an Alex Pietrangelo goal. After getting so heavily outplayed, the Blues took a 2-0 lead into the locker room, and never looked back.
In a sloppy game where nothing went right for the Bruins, marred by bad passing and defensive lapses, the Blues smothered every offensive foray, giving up a lone goal when the game was no longer in doubt.
Last night was the third game that the Blues took from the Bruins in Boston, a remarkable feat made more so by the fact they were 10-3 on the road in the playoffs. They played a gritty, hard-nosed game and refused to give up — they are deserving Stanley Cup champs.
The Bruins? They looked out-of-synch all night and seemed to lose their will to win after the second goal. Brad Marchand had a paticularly poor game but he was not alone. Unfortunately, this dispiriting loss could mark the last game for 42-year-old Zdeno Chara, the team leader who tried but ultimately failed to inspire his team despite playing the last three games with a broken jaw.
Game 6: Rask Steals Show as Bruins Defeat Blues to Set Up Game 7 for the Stanley Cup
The Bruins were not ready to hand over the Stanley Cup to the St. Louis Blues.
Not just yet.
Last night, they skated into the hockey-mad cauldron in St. Louis for an elimination game and calmly skated away with a 5-1 win over the Blues.
With 18,000 screaming fans inside the Enterprise Center and another 100,000 partiers ready to explode outside, the Bruins put St. Louis Stanley Cup celebrations on hold by squaring the series.
The Bruins survived an early onslaught, scored on their power play, killed off four penalties and relied on goalie Tuukka Rask to heroically hold the fort. The two teams will now return to Boston to play what promises to be an intensely fascinating Game 7.
The Blues actually dominated play for most of the game, but were unable to put the puck past Rask until late in the third. And they got away from their physical play, which let the Bruins faster skill players more ice to play — something that will have to change if the Blues hope to win Game 7.
The Bruins survived a scare in the second period when defenceman Alex Pietrangelo backhanded a shot off the post. It bounced behind Rask but Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy deftly batted the puck away before it crossed the goal line. Had the Blues scored on this play, the result would likely have been much different. Watch how close they came.
So it’s on to Game 7, which hockey fans dream for.
”The whole hockey world loves a Game 7, so it should be a great night in Boston and may the best team win,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.
And while Blues coach Craig Berube desperately wanted to win Game 6, he put on a brave face in front of the media. ”Listen, if you told me four months ago we were going to be in the finals in Game 7, I think I’d take it, We’ve been a good road team. We’ve won twice up there in this series, so we’re a confident group.”
Playing his second game with a broken jaw, 42-year-old Zdeno Chara had a much stronger game this first, totalling 22 minutes of ice-time and using his physical advantage and ridiculously long reach to kill penalties. He even got on the score-sheet, scoring an empty-net goal to ice the game.
If the Bruins win Game 7 and take home the Stanley Cup, it will cap a year of dominance for Boston sports teams. The Red Sox are World Series champions and the Patriots are Super Bowl champs, no city has ever had three title-holders in year. That could change.
Will the Bruins be able to carry the momentum of Game 6 back to Boston? Or, can the Blues bounce back on the road, where they’ve played so well all playoffs?
Game 7 on Wednesday night should be a beauty.
Game 5: 42-year-old Chara Plays with Broken Jaw But Blues Still Beat Bruins
Zdeno Chara’s return to the ice after sustaining a broken jaw the previous game provided an emotional lift for the Boston Bruins but it wasn’t enough as the St. Louis Blue’s captured Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals 2-1.
The 42-year-old Slovak who was hit in the face with a puck that shattered his jaw skated out on the ice to an immense roar from the Boston faithful. Playing with a plastic shield to protect his jaw, Chara could not maintain his usually heavily workload and several times during the game he appeared to be labouring with his injury.
Still, it was an “amazingly brave” performance by the Bruins’s captain said coach Bruce Cassidy. After the game, Cassidy was not in the mood to discuss courage. Instead, he focussed his post-game press conference on incompetence, specifically pointing to the key points in the game that were marred by one-sided officiating.
Playing their usual physical game, the Blues managed to squeak out a road victory that came largely because of the stellar play of goaltender Jordan Binnington and a game-winning goal by David Perron that came with more than a little help from the referees.
It was early in the third period, when Bruins’ forward Noel Accari was dumped on his head by Blues forward Tyler Bozak, a clear foul that occurred right in front of the referee. Inexplicably, the ref did not make the call and his glaring oversight led to Perron’s goal, which turned out to be the game winner.
After the game, Cassidy was incensed by the non-call, calling it an “egregious error. There were several other instances during the game were calls seemed to go in favour of the Blues. And Cassidy vented his frustration.
“It’s right in front of the official. It’s a slewfoot. Our guy’s gone … I mean, it’s blatant. It had a big effect on the game,” said the coach who now finds his team down 3-2 going into St. Louis fighting for their Stanley Cup lives.
It doesn’t take a hockey genius to see that Cassidy had a point:
Cam Neely, former Bruins star and team president, reaction to the non-call was priceless:
Game 4: Blues Draw Even In Stanley Cup Finals With Hard-Fought Victory 4-2 Over Bruins
The St. Louis Blues evened up their Stanley Cup Finals playoff series against the Boston Bruins with a gritty 4-2 victory last night in Game 4.
After getting blown out 7-2 in Game 3, the Blues returned to the style of play that has got them this far — dump the puck in and then forechecking the Bruins’ defenceman to death. This strategy paid off time and again as the Bruins were not able to clear the puck or muster an answer to the Blues’ physical play.
The well-earned victory was the Blues first ever home-ice win in a Stanley Cup Final game.
It was bad enough for the Bruins that they lost the game. Making it worse, however, was that this gruelling physical series claimed another victim, this time the Bruins 42-year-old stalwart defenceman and team leader Zdeno Chara. Chara took a puck to the face in the second period that opened a gruesome gash and forced the gritty veteran to leave the game.
And even though Chara was stitched up and came back to the bench in the third period wearing a full shield, he did not get back on the ice. It’s uncertain if he’ll be ready to go for Game 5, which means the Bruins will have lost two of their top six defencemen.
His return was admired by teammates who marvel at the toughness of the oldest player in hockey.
“His mouth has some blood, and I don’t know what else is going on in there, but he can barely talk, and he’s out there supporting us,” said Bruins’ defenceman Brandon Carlo. “Just his leadership is on another level.”
Chara’s return to the bench, however, was not enough to quell the Blues forechecking. The team was relentless, penning the Bruins in their own zone for long stretches which eventually led to the game-winning goal by Ryan O’Reilly.
O’Reilly was dominant all game and his hard-working effort paid off as he scored the game-winner off a big rebound in the third period.
‘He’s been our best player all year and he got rewarded,” said winger Patrick Maroon.
The Blues now have the momentum as Game 5 shifts back to Boston for Thursday night.
The Bruins need a better effort from their forwards and need to find a way to keep their top defenceman healthy.
Game 3: Everything Clicking as Bruins Beat Blues 7-2 in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final
The first Stanley Cup Finals game to be played in St. Louis in a half century, which created such excitement in the state of Missouri, unfortunately ended with a whimper as the home-town Blues were thrashed 7-2 by the Boston Bruins.
With St. Louis fans rocking the Enterprise Center, the Bruins silenced the crowd, jumping to an early 3-0 lead and riding that lead to victory. Led by defenceman Torey Krug’s goal and three assists, Boston’s leaders came to play.
The top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were all over the ice, wreaking havoc in the Blues’ zone all night.
The Bruins’ power play went 4-4, causing Blues coach Craig Berube to bemoan the team’s lack of discipline. “We know they have a dangerous power play and we’ve been flirting with danger here the whole series and it burnt us tonight,” said Berube.
As well as capturing the all-important Game 3 (70 per cent of teams that win Game 3 go on to win the Stanley Cup), the Bruins may have also managed to dent the confidence of Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who had a sub-par game and was eventually pulled in favour of Jake Allen.
“I’ve got to be better,” a frustrated Binnington said after the game. “I’ve got to do a better job giving my team a chance to win.”
To bounce back in Game 4, the Blues will need Binnington to return to usual form, stay out of the penalty box and stop the Bruins power play.
Game 2: Blues Even Stanley Cup Final Against Bruins With Game 2 Overtime Win
In defeating the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime last night, the St. Louis Blues accomplished a franchise first — they finally won a Stanley Cup Finals playoff game.
Going into last night’s Game 2, the Blues were a ghastly 0-13 in Finals appearances, losing the first match in this series on top of being swept in their previous appearances in 1968, ‘69 and ‘70.
But last night they put all those demons behind them with a gritty, well-earned overtime victory against the Bruins in Boston that evened the series at one game apiece.
In a game that featured plenty of heavy hits, the Blues got the game-winner from the unlikeliest of sources: defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, who scored 3 goals all year. Early in overtime, the blueliner — who is well down on the Blues’ depth chart and is often a healthy scratch — blasted a shot from the point that beat the screened Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins somehow managed to get to overtime despite being outplayed for much of the last two periods. Their usually stellar first line — Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak — had a miserable game. Pasternak seemed listless, Bergeron couldn’t win face-offs and Marchand missed the net on several golden opportunities and made a number of defensive mistakes, including one that led to the tying goal by Vladimir Tarasenko.
In dominating most of the game, the Blues were able to exert the physical edge they enjoy over the Bruins. All night, Blues forwards came crashing in on the forecheck, causing the Bruins defenceman to look behind them and rush their plays, which often led to turnovers. It’s a style of play that got the Blues this far in the playoffs and one the Bruins haven’t faced yet.
The Blues now return home with home-ice advantage to the Enterprise Centre, which gets so loud you can’t hear the whistles. The Bruins are going to have to block out this noise and concentrate on how to survive the next two games on the road.
Game 1: Boston Bruins Draw First Blood Over Blues With 4-2 Victory
The Boston Bruins took a major step towards capturing the Stanley Cup last night with a 4-2 come-from-behind Game 1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Early on, the Bruins looked like a team that that had come off 10 days of rest as they looked completely out of synch in the first period, missing passes, squandering scoring opportunities and falling behind 2-0 to the visiting Blues.
However, the Bruins shook off the rust and rediscovered their game in the second period, widely out-shooting (18-3) and out-playing the Blues, tying the score on a pair of goals from their defencemen — first Connor Clifton and then Charlie McAvoy.
In the third period, fourth-liner Sean Kuraly, the game’s first star, scored the go-ahead goal and the Blues didn’t come close after that.
This one hurts for the Blues because not only did they blow a two-goal lead but they missed out on a chance of stealing a game in Boston and taking over home-ice advantage.
The game featured some heavy hits, including this play where the helmet-less Bruins’ defenceman Torey Krug gets knocked around in his own end, loses his helmet, skates the length of the ice and then absolutely destroys Blues’ forward Robert Thomas.
That hit got the home-crowd pumped and brought back memories of the Big Bad Bruins from the 70s, a lunch-pail gang (coached by Don Cherry) who utilized a similarly rowdy style of play.
The Bruins have now won eight games in a row this playoffs, a feat which they’ve accomplished twice in the past. Both times, they went on to win the Stanley Cup. And dating back to 1969-70 — the last time they played St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Finals — the Bruins now have a five-game Stanley Cup Final winning streak against the Blues.
The Blues, who have been a resilient bunch this playoffs, definitely have their work cut out for them.