By Zach Berman
The St. Louis Blues have been an incredibly resilient team over the course of their 2019 playoff run, but as the puck dropped in a sold-out TD Garden for game one of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, the Blues were faced with something they hadn’t seen before. While the Jets, Stars and Sharks served as tough opponents for the Blues, not one of those teams had something that the Boston Bruins have in spades: experience winning a Stanley Cup. The Bruins still have five core players left over from their Cup-winning 2011 squad, including captain Zdeno Chara, and top-six forwards Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. This experience showed as Boston took Game 1 by a final score of 4-2.
Granted, the night wasn’t a poor showing by the Blues, at least not for the first 20 minutes. The Blues found the back of the net first on a stick-side snap shot by Brayden Schenn. Even as the teams traded early blows with physicality and penalties, the Blues went to the locker room after 20 minutes up 1-0. In the first minute of the second, Brayden Schenn took advantage of a costly giveaway by the Bruins’ David Pastrnak, who flipped it in front to Vladimir Tarasenko, who then beat Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask stick side to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
Things were going great for the Western Conference underdogs. 20,000 plus fans watching the game on the Enterprise Center jumbotron back in St. Louis were worked into a frenzy. Then, all hell broke loose. A minute after the Tarasenko goal, the Bruins quickly countered on a knuckling tipped shot by defenseman Connor Clifton that seemed to baffle Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington. Momentum was back in Boston’s control, and it would stay that way until the final siren. A few minutes later, Charlie McAvoy beat Binnington with a wicked wrister that tied the game, and although the Bruins utterly dominated the Blues in the second, Binnington managed to do enough to keep things tied at the second intermission. However, a Sean Kuraly goal early in the third managed to put Boston ahead for good and a Brad Marchand empty netter sealed the deal later that period.
It was a rough ending for a Blues team back in the Cup Finals for the first time in 49 years, and despite a strong first period and solid play from Binnington, the Blues left Monday’s game still searching for that elusive first Finals win in franchise history (the team had been swept in their 3 previous Finals appearances, and Monday’s loss dropped the Blues’ franchise record in the Finals to 0-13). Boston had six power-plays over the course of the game, and the Bruins’ physicality seemed to be in the Blues’ heads all night.
The Bruins controlled the battle on the boards all night against the Blues in dominating fashion. Don’t expect the Blues to let this continue, though. St. Louis hasn’t lost two straight games since Games 3 and 4 against Winnipeg, and coach Craig Berube acknowledged that, also noting that the team needed to clean up their act regarding penalties.
“It takes a lot of guys out of the game and that burns up a lot of energy from other guys that are killing all the time. It’s too much. We’ve got to be better there. We’ve got to be more disciplined” said Berube at the postgame presser.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Network where the Blues hope to turn things around so they can have “Gloria” on blast for their trip back to St. Louis.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org