Game 2 needed more than 60 minutes to be decided, but Carl Gunnarsson’s goal less than four minutes into overtime gave the St. Louis Blues a huge 3-2 win. Now the Stanley Cup Final shifts to St. Louis with the series tied at one game each. Here is a brief look at what each team is doing well, where they can improve, and what will be the main things to watch for in Games 3 and 4.
One area that has worked out well for the Bruins so far is special teams. Boston has been able to draw 10 penalties through two games, scoring twice with the extra attacker. Not only has their postseason-leading power play been effective, but their penalty kill has also performed well, holding St. Louis off all three times on Wednesday and five times overall.
As for an area to improve, the performance of Boston’s first line has been less than ideal. Once again, the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak was ineffective, with only Pastrnak registering a point via a secondary assist on Charlie Coyle’s power-play goal. The three have a total of two points between them and a combined -7 plus-minus after two games. Now heading on the road, the Bruins will need their best scorers to shine once again.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis did a great job of improving from its Game 1 performance in several different areas. They flipped the shot total, winning 37-23 after being outshot in the first game by 18. They got some scoring help from their defensemen, with Robert Bortuzzo’s game-tying goal in the first and Carl Gunnarsson’s overtime winner. They also held off a late push from Boston to send the game to overtime.
An area of concern once again is the number of penalties the Blues have drawn through two games. After giving the Bruins five power plays on Monday, they gave them five power plays once again in Game 2. One of those penalties, a boarding call on Oskar Sundqvist, may result in extra discipline from the league. St. Louis will have to eventually find a way to maintain composure and stay out of the penalty box.
Keys for Games 3 and 4
The physicality of this series has been very noticeable, and it’s a question of how long the aggressive play continues. The first period of Game 2 was very hard-hitting and high-scoring, the second period had four penalties, including a double-minor, and the third period featured more hard hits in a scoreless frame. Will both teams continue to be aggressive on the forecheck and along the boards as the series continues, or will fatigue eventually start to set in?
Another key will be the continued play (or non-play) of Boston’s All-Star first line. Jay Bouwmeester and Colton Parayko have been on the ice the majority of the time when Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak are all out there, along with a combination of St. Louis’ first three forward lines. Now with the Bruins’ home-ice advantage officially gone, it will up to that line to end their slump and reclaim home-ice in one of these next two games.
Game 3 between the Bruins and Blues is this Saturday in St. Louis, with the puck dropping at 7 pm CST.