Now we’ll see whether Bruins or Blues has the most guts
Some stray thoughts on what is rapidly developing into a classic Stanley Cup Final:
First and foremost, this series is not about goalies or skill players or coaching.
The Bruins dominate on all counts. Boston’s forwards are more skilled. The goalie is more polished. Bruce Cassidy crushes Craig Berube.
In a word, the Stanley Cup Final is about
Plain and simple,
St. Louis and Boston hit the chippy TD Garden ice on Thursday night with two wins apiece in this race to four.
The common factor through four games? When St. Louis hits, the Bruins lose.
Just watch the action along the boards. Every time the glass rattles, the Bruins are on the receiving end. It’s taxing. It hurts. And it forces the Boston players to panic, or at least make a play earlier than needed.
Game 4 was a microcosm. When the Blues hit, they dominated, which was much of the night, including all of the third period.
When they didn’t, which was a major slice of the second period, the Bruins carried the play.
Honestly, it’s like these Blues are the 2011 Bruins and the Bruins are the 2011 Vancouver Canucks.We all know how that turned out.
Turning to the goaltending for the series, so far through four games, I would give Tuukka Rask a “B+” and I would give St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington a “B-.”
Each has made big saves. Neither has made the colossal saves, and Binnington has allowed three cheapies.
The “Bennington stinks” crowd, though, has been way too quick to pounce, especially after Game 3. Bottom line is, each one of these goalies is going to make the first save and needs his defense to step up and clear rebounds.
That brings us to the game-winner on Monday night in Game 5 by Ryan O’Reilly.
Like Brandon Carlo’s second-period equalizer, it came on a rebound to an undefended opponent, in this case O’Reilly who slammed the puck into the open side.
The only difference? When Carlo scored, there was no St. Louis player within 15 feet of him.
On O’Reilly’s goal, Charlie McAverage was right there, but he chose to watch the action instead of engage with O’Reilly and fight for the loose puck.
I bring this subject up because McAvoy was supposed to be the “next Ray Bourque.”
And I never once saw Bourque, in a big situation, get beat like that without even trying.
Finally, if you are looking for an indicator of Boston’s chances the rest of the way, keep your eyes focused on No. 63, Brad Marchand.
In the Bruins’ seven postseason losses this spring, he has zero goals and two assists. In the 14 Boston victories, he has eight goals and 10 assists. And for the record, he hasn’t taken a penalty in the last two series.
Marchand has to be on his game or the Bruins are toast.