The Boston Bruins travel to St. Louis facing elimination after dropping Game 5 to trail 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blues on Thursday night in Boston. Game 6 will be the St. Louis Blues’ chance to close out the series and win their first Stanley Cup for their franchise.
Game 5 Review
Game 5 in Boston was unlike any other in the series thus far. For one, it was the first time in the series that a team won back-to-back games, which should give the Blues momentum moving forward. It’s also the first time in the series that the Blues have had the lead and also now a chance to finish the season.
This last game was also different from the rest because so far, we have seen one team in each game dominate the other and win. In Games 1 and 3, the Bruins controlled the whole game, while in Games 2 and 4, the Blues never let Boston get going. This last game, however, Boston led the game in shots, hits, scoring chances, and time of possession, but thanks to a tremendous effort from Blues goaltender Jodan Binnington, the Blues were able to steal the game away.
Lastly, Game 5, like others in the 2019 playoffs, was not without controversy. The Blues scored the game-winning goal right after an apparent trip that St. Louis was able to get away with. Without question, in playoff hockey, they let teams get more aggressive, and games get chippy. This, however, was the big play of the night that has been talked about since, as it led to the Blues’ game-winning goal in such a pivotal game.
The Bruins are fighting adversity in the form of injuries in the most important games of the year. They have lost several important players, including forwards and defenders, as they have tried to mix up their lines every way possible to make everything work. As they say, when adversity strikes, you look to your leaders, and that’s exactly what they did.
After being struck by a puck and breaking his jaw in Game 4, just three days later, Bruins longtime captain Zdeno Chara played and started in Game 5. The team talked about the inspiration this gave them going into the game, and it showed in their effort the entire game as they filled the stat sheet. Unfortunately for them, it was not enough.
Boston’s first line also let them down again. This line was possibly the best first line in the NHL during the regular season, but now, in the biggest games, they have vanished. It has been so bad, in fact, that the top line has zero goals in the series when it is 5 on 5. This is without a doubt a credit to the Blues’ stout defense, but also the Bruins do not want to let their season slip away without ever really getting a push from their All-Star players. It will be interesting to see how they respond with their season hanging in the balance.
The St. Louis Blues have truly never been in this spot before. They are one win away from their first-ever Stanley Cup trophy. They have won back-to-back games and will do anything they can to deliver a win to their home crowd in Game 6 on Sunday. Everything is clicking right now for the Blues. Despite giving up a ton of shots and scoring opportunities to the Bruins in Game 5, the phenomenal goalie play by Jordan Binnington, and the defense in front of him, gave their offense enough chances to edge out a win and give them the lead in the series.
The Blues’ top players, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly, have stepped up on the biggest stage and delivered a great performance in the series. A more unsung hero for St. Louis is a guy that almost didn’t get to play in the Finals. Zach Sanford, a player who only subbed in because of a suspension in Game 2, played well enough to be given a roster spot and responded by giving the Blues three assists in two games. When it comes to tight series like this, if you are going to win, you need guys to step up, and Sanford may just be the guy that makes the difference that goes unnoticed this year.
What to Expect
Game 6 is going to simply come down to how Boston responds to the missed call that may have cost them Game 5. This is eerily similar to the hand pass that cost the Blues a game against the Sharks in the Western Conference finals. The missed call in that game seemed to light a fire under the Blues, and they responded by dominating the final games of that series. If the Bruins use their misfortune to spark a fire under the team, they could be playing the final game of the season in Boston. If not, we will see St. Louis win its very first Stanley Cup.
I expect Boston to put up a fight, not go quietly, and force a Game 7 by winning Game 6 in St. Louis, and we will all get to witness the Game 7 we deserve from two great teams.
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