Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is tonight in Boston. The Bruins have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 hold of the series and maintain a home-ice advantage. The Blues on the other-hand can even up the series before sending it back to St. Louis for Game 3.
Here is a quick recap of Game 1, along with some keys to victory for each team.
Game 1 Recap
The Bruins scored four unanswered goals in the last two periods to beat the Blues 4-2 in Game 1. It was St. Louis who got off to a quick start, with Brayden Schenn opening the game with a goal a little over seven minutes in. Then early in the second period, Vladimir Tarasenko fired his ninth goal of the postseason to put the Blues up 2-0.
But that is where the good fortune ran out for St. Louis. Shortly after Tarasenko’s goal, Connor Clifton brought the deficit to one. Then about 10 minutes later, Charlie McAvoy buried a goal on the power play, capping off Boston’s dominant second period and tying the game. The Bruins wouldn’t stop there, as Sean Kuraly gave Boston their first lead of the game a little over five minutes into the third. Brad Marchand’s empty-netter sealed the deal, making the score 4-2.
Boston used a dominant second and third period to grab the victory, highlighted by a second period in which they out-shot St. Louis 18-3. The shot difference in total was 38-20 in favor of the Bruins. They also won in the face-off circle, coming out on top 54.4 percent of the time.
Keys for St. Louis
One key area for the Blues to improve in for Game 2 is the amount of time they spend in the penalty box. Monday night, the Blues handed the Bruins five power play opportunities, and although they killed four of them, they allowed McAvoy to score on the man-advantage to tie the game in the second period. The Bruins are great at drawing penalties, so St. Louis has to be mindful of that and play more disciplined. If they give more power play chances to a team that has converted on 32.7% of them in the postseason, it will be a short series.
Another key for the Blues will be playing a full 60 minutes. Game 1 was dominated by both teams, but at separate times during the game. St. Louis will want to make sure they’re fully-engaged and playing their best for a full game. The Bruins are too good to not take advantage of a team that is sub-optimal for two-thirds of the game.
Keys for Boston
The last key for St. Louis also applies a little bit to the Bruins. Boston will have to play a full 60 minutes as well and not get in the habit of coming back in games. While it is something that worked in Game 1, they will have a lot less luck coming back from 2-0 deficits playing on the road. Not to mention, should the Blues become more disciplined and stay out of the box, the Bruins would likely not be able to dominate shots 18-3 during a period again.
Another key for Boston is the performance of their first line going forward. The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak has been electric all season and postseason, but only registered one point on Monday via Marchand’s empty-netter. While getting production from bottom-six forwards like Kuraly and Clifton is great, the Bruins will eventually need to push against St. Louis’ above-average defense with their best scorers.
One x-factor for tonight may be the return of Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, who has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury and is listed as a game-time decision. Dunn on the ice or not, the Bruins seem to have more scoring options, along with a goalie in Tuukka Rask who has had a very strong postseason. I’ll pick the Bruins -160 to take Game 2 at home.