Bruins vs. Blues: Predictions, odds, schedule for 2019 Stanley Cup Final
It all comes down to this. Two teams left standing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. One is a perennial Stanley Cup contender looking for its second championship this decade, the other a Cinderella team that was dead-last in the NHL at the start of January and has never won one.
The Bruins, who finished third in the NHL, marched into the final with a sweep of the upstart Hurricanes. On the flip side, the Blues defeated the Sharks in six in the Western Conference finals after compiling the league’s best record from Jan. 3 onward.
This will be a battle between a hot rookie netminder and the top offensive line in the league. Of two teams sharing one goal — skating around the ice with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Who will win and who will go home empty-handed is to be determined but it is expected to be a wild ride all the way to the end.
Boston Bruins (-160) vs.Blues (+140): Schedule, breakdown, prediction
|Date||Matchup||Time (TV channel)|
|May 27||Game 1 at Boston||8 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)|
|May 29||Game 2 at Boston||8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA)|
|June 1||Game 3 at St. Louis||8 p.m. ET (NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA)|
|June 3||Game 4 at St. Louis||8 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)|
|June 6*||Game 5 at Boston||8 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)|
|June 9*||Game 6 at St. Louis||8 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)|
|June 12*||Game 7 at Boston||8 p.m. ET (NBC, SN, CBC, TVA)|
Since these two teams only played each other twice over the course of the season, it’s hard to take into consideration the impact this has on the finals — especially since they split games and Jordan Binnington only started one.
Chris Wagner, who is not expected to be ready to go for Boston after blocking a shot with his arm in Game 3 against Carolina, led all scorers with three points (two goals, one assist). Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask recorded a 1.44 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage while Binnington boasted a 0.92 GAA and .969 save %.
|Jan. 17||Blues||Bruins||BOS, 5-2|
|Feb. 23||Bruins||Blues||STL, 2-1 (SO)|
Blues: Welcome to the playoffs, Vladimir Tarasenko — the Blues superstar has finally broken out. He entered the Western Conference finals with only one goal in his last six games. In the Sharks series, he recorded at least one point in every game and had three in the all-important Game 5. His linemate, Jaden Schwartz, notched four goals in the series and has 12 in the postseason — which is more than he had in the entire regular season (69 games).
The Western Conference finals also saw a more balanced attack from the Blues. David Perron (three goals, four assists) and Tyler Bozak, who only had two goals in the first two series, had three goals, including the game-winner in Game 4. With their game elevated and the blueline corps — led by captain Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko — jumping into the play, Craig Berube can turn to anyone on his bench when a big goal is needed.
Boston: The Perfection Line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have been the driving force for Boston’s offense all season long. In the postseason, the trio has netted 38.6% of their team’s goals — and in the Carolina series, they had six goals and two game-winners. They showed they can be consistent in the Eastern Conference finals but still need to step up their game 5-on-5.
Boston’s other forwards will need to continue chipping in goals to help them balance its attack, as the loss of Wagner will leave a big hole in the lineup. Charlie Coyle, acquired in February, has transitioned seamlessly and has six goals and six assists in the postseason. His linemate Marcus Johansson, who was also a trade deadline addition, has three goals and six assists while David Krejci has 14 points.
Just like Berube, Bruce Cassidy has a deep bench that includes a solid group of blueliners who can bury the puck when needed.
Edge: Only because of the Perfection Line, Boston.
Blues: The Blues defense is solid. Pietrangelo and Edmundson and Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester have stepped up their game when called upon and have stifled the opposition. In the Stanley Cup Final, all eyes will be on the 35-year-old Bouwmeester who, in his 16th NHL season, is making his final debut. He has looked solid while getting more than 23 minutes a game and, along with his partner Parayko, has shut down some of the Sharks top offensive players.
A big key for the defense is also the play of netminder Jordan Binnington who has provided a sense of calm for St. Louis in between the pipe. The one big question for the Blues, however, is the status of Vince Dunn. He took a puck to the face in Game 3 and has not played since. Robert Bortuzzo did slot into his spot and scored the game-winning goal in Game 4.
Boston: Experience is something that should never be taken for granted, just ask 42-year-old defenseman Zdeno Chara. Yes, he has 21 years of wear and tear, but the big man is also plus-11 in the postseason — and clocking in over 22 minutes a game — and is on the top pairing with Charlie McAvoy. He missed Game 4 but looks ready to go in his third Stanley Cup Final. They, along with the rest of the Bruins backend have held teams to an impressive 1.94 goals-against average.
All six defenseman have played key roles in the postseason, whether offensively or defensively. They’ll need to step up as the Blues have four solid lines of offense they can roll through. But like St. Louis, they have one Tuukka Rask in net, who is the biggest shutdown player in the NHL right now.
Blues: It can’t be said it enough, Jordan Binnington is a star. In 19 games he has a 2.36 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. His numbers dropped slightly in the Western Conference Finals from the second round, from 2.18 GAA to 2.32 and a .922 save pct. to .912. Not a big dip considering the firepower San Jose brought. Binnington is steady in net and the backbone of this team — and has been since he took over in January. And a quick reminder, while it’s not a large sample size, he did hold Boston to only one goal in a shootout win back in February.
Boston: Many have already etched his name on the Conn Smythe Trophy, and to be fair even if Boston loses it could be his to lose. Rask has an impressive 1.84 GAA, .942 save percentage and two shutouts. In the series against Carolina, his number dropped even more to a 1.25 GAA, a.956 save pct. and he shutout the Canes in Game 4. St. Louis does have a deeper lineup than Carolina but Rask has looked incredibly steady in net for Boston.
Of note, Rask is 6-2-4 with a 2.12 GAA and .924 save percentage in 13 games lifetime against St. Louis. Another reminder, he had a 1.44 goals-against average and a .949 save pct. in two games against the Blues this season.
Just like the Carolina Hurricanes were warned, and did not do, the St. Louis Blues must stay out of the penalty box. Boston’s power play is deadly at a 34% efficiency (17 goals in 50 opportunities). On the flip side, St. Louis’ power play could use a boost as it is only 19.4% effective.
Key players to watch
Pat Maroon, F, Blues. Can the hometown kid make good? Maroon returned home to be closer to his son and the move has paid dividends for the forward. He netted 28 points in 74 regular season games and has seven points in 19 postseason games. We all know they’ll be an extra jump in his step for this series as the St. Louis native will be looking to give his city the one thing its been waiting 51 years for — a Stanley Cup.
Matt Grzelcyk, D, Bruins. Speaking of hometown kids, Grzelcyk grew up across the river from TD Garden and his dad, John, is a member of the Bull Gang that is responsible for changing over the arena between events since 1967. In his second NHL season, the 25-year-old defenseman has elevated his game this postseason. He netted two big goals in Game 2 against Carolina and has seven points in 17 games. Like Maroon, will have more at stake than just a Cup for himself.
Bruins vs. Blues playoff history
|1972||Bruins won semifinals in four games|
|1970||Bruins won Stanley Cup Final in four games|
Last five playoff appearances
|2018||Lost in second round to Lightning in five games|
|2017||Lost in first round to Senators in six games|
|2014||Lost in second round to Canadiens in seven games|
|2013||Lost in Stanley Cup Final to Blackhawks in six games|
|2012||Lost in conference quarterfinals to Capitals in seven games|
|2017||Lost in second round to Predators in six games|
|2016||Lost in conference finals to Sharks in six games|
|2015||Lost in first round to Wild in six games|
|2014||Lost in first round to Blackhawks in six games|
|2013||Lost in conference quarterfinals to Kings in six games|
Bruins vs. Blues prediction
Boston and St. Louis have combined for 21 wins when scoring first in the postseason, so whoever gets that first one will have a key advantage. The Bruins may have more goals-for and a lower GAA in the playoffs, but St. Louis knows when to pick their spots. This is going all the way to Game 7 so picking the winner is a tough one, but the Blues are a team of destiny — Blues in seven and Jordan Binnington is your Conn Smythe winner.