It all comes down to this. Game 7 on Wednesday between the Blues and Bruins will send one team home as champions, and the other team just home. What has been an incredible series will take the ice for one more game in Boston.
Here is a brief recap of Game 6, some keys for Game 7, and who ultimately wins the Stanley Cup.
Game 6 Recap
Facing elimination on the road, Tuukka Rask stepped up and made 29 saves, sparking the Bruins en route to a 5-1 win in Game 6.
The only score through the first two periods came on a 5-on-3, as Brad Marchand buried a one-timer from the corner to put Boston up by a goal. The game was pretty even after that, with both teams trading chances and each goaltender making clutch saves. Shots were also incredibly close, with the Bruins leading 20-19 after 40 minutes.
Then in the third period, the Bruins made their run. Two and a half minutes in, Brandon Carlo sent a bouncing puck past Jordan Binnington to go up 2-0. Halfway through the period, Boston forced a turnover in the neutral zone which immediately led to Karson Kuhlman sniping his first goal of the postseason.
Ryan O’Reilly would get one back for St. Louis a couple of minutes later, but the two-goal deficit wouldn’t last long. A couple of minutes after O’Reilly’s goal, an aggressive Bruins forecheck led to David Pastrnak deking Binnington and roofing a shot over him to seal the deal. Zdeno Chara would add a cross-ice empty-netter near the end of the game, resulting in the 5-1 score and the extension of the series.
Keys for St. Louis
The Blues power play was once again held in check. Despite having the man-advantage four times in Game 6, they were held scoreless each time. This brings their total to a paltry 1-for-18 with the extra attacker this series, or a 5.56 percent rate. St. Louis has been able to win three games this series without any help from the power play, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to take advantage of Boston’s mistakes and silence the crowd with a power-play goal or two.
Another key will come down to if the depth players can find a way to generate offense. Among their bottom-six forwards, only Ivan Barbashev has scored a goal this series. Seeing guys like Alex Steen, Oskar Sundqvist, and Sammy Blais get more involved offensively will make a huge difference. That can also include guys like Jaden Schwartz and Patrick Maroon, who have been scoreless through six games.
Keys for Boston
The Bruins did a great job of taking advantage of turnovers and making the Blues pay for costly mistakes. But for nearly the whole game, Boston trailed in possession by quite a bit, registering a 44.3 Corsi For percentage. For Game 7, the Bruins will try to have longer offensive shifts, putting more pressure on the defense of the Blues and even less pressure on Rask to duplicate his performance from Sunday.
The amount of pressure on Rask will be critical, as he is also a key to whether the Bruins win the Cup or not. In three games this series where Boston has faced elimination, including Game 6 on Sunday, Rask has allowed four goals (1.33 GAA) and has a .953 save percentage. Regardless of possession numbers and power plays and whatever else, if Rask continues his dominant play, the Bruins will be in a great position to win.
It has been an incredibly fun NHL season that will end after Wednesday night. And thanks to depth scoring, success on the power play, and elite goaltending, the Bruins -170 will raise Lord Stanley’s Cup and bring another championship to the city of Boston.