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St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins

St. Louis Blues (0-0, best of seven) @ Boston Bruins (0-0, best of seven)

May 27, 2019, 8:00 PM EST (SAP Center)

Moneyline: St. Louis Blues +130/Boston Bruins -150

Puckline: Boston Bruins -1.5

Over/Under: 5.5

NHL Playoffs Boston Bruins vs St. Louis Blues

What a wild and crazy “NHL Playoffs” we’ve had so far, right?

All of those favorites getting knocked out in the first round! All of those (lame NHL) brackets being busted! The Lightning getting ousted! The Calgary Flames getting snuffed out! And even the Sharks, while fighting valiantly, couldn’t overcome the injuries.

Everything seemed to be pointed towards having a two fresh, unpredictable, and deserving fan bases in the finals.

But then Boston decided it was time to stuff their overfed, Dunkin Donut eating, grubby little fingers into the mix.

But we did get the lovable (losers) in the St. Louis Blues. The team that was in dead last, back in January, has made the miraculous push to the Stanley Cup Final and is looking to take advantage of this improved defense and stoic, veteran-like performances of Jordan Binnington.

St. Louis Blues

St. Louis, as one would expect, is the second ranked team in goal differential (second to Boston) and has racked up 57 goals so far in the playoffs (tied with Boston, but has played two more games than Boston).

St. Louis got to the finals by knocking out the most potent offense in the playoffs, in the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks STILL lead all teams in playoff goals, but injuries and Jordan Binnington seemed to final pushed the final nail into the coffin.

Binnington hasn’t been the best goalie in the playoffs, but he has been when he needs to be. Jordan looks like he tries to figure out who his opponent is, during the first three games of a series. But in games four, five, and six, Binnington allowed more than two goals once.

Binnington’s save percentage in the last three games of the Western Conference Finals was .974 and his GAA was .67. The likes of Jaden Schwartz (12G and 16PTS) has been tremendously important to the Blues’ success, but Binnington is their MVP.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins have been the most dominant team in the playoffs and there is no arguing that point. At 12-5, they have the best winning percentage and considering 3 of their losses came in the first round, they seemed to only get better.

At this point, Boston has a +24 goal differential. In my opinion, that is mind-blowing. It’s the time of year where defenses should tighten up and games should end with a one or two goal difference.

To play with the numbers a bit, with the seven extra wins (compared to losses) that means the Bruins would have won those games by over 3 goals each (there’s flawed logic in that, but it’s a fun way to describe it).

This success that the Bruins have enjoyed is mainly sourced from the powerplay, the first line, and their goaltending. To combine the first point into a couple of statistics, Patrice Bergeron leads all playoff forwards in powerplay goals, with six. His six goals have helped him reach his playoff total of eight (8), which ranks 4th in the playoffs right now.

His linemate and stooge, Brad Marchand, is the man behind most of the goals, for Boston. His 18 points is good for second-best in the playoffs right now (behind the now eliminated Logan Couture). Marchand has done his best to bring his style of game to the playoffs and has found a lot of success.

Even when he’s not scoring, he’s making his opponents look silly and working them into new levels of frustration. That’s the nice way of putting it. Marchand has just perfected the art of being a jerk.

With all of the offense (and not mentioning Tory Krug and his 11 assists), that superb goal differential doesn’t happen without Tuukka Rask. Want to measure a goaltending statistic? No need, Tuukka is at the top of the list:

  • 1st in Saves, 517
  • 1st in Save Percentage, .942
  • 1st in GAA, 1.84
  • 1st in Shutouts, 2
  • 1st in wins, 12 (duh!)

If there was an award for best player through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Rask would be wielding it right now. But unfortunately, for Rask, there are still four more games to win. And the law of averages may come knocking soon.

If Rask were to fall back to his career averages (.921), he’d be giving up four goals per game in the next four games (and that only puts him at .926 save percentage, should he face 100 shots).

It’s very unlikely that the defense and Rask implode like that, but it is possible. And one could argue that the Bruins did get away with a (not easy, but) easier 2nd and 3rd round. Jordan Binnington and the St. Louis Blues are no joke.

St. Louis and Boston Regular Season Matchups

It is a very rare occasion that the regular season makes any difference in predicting playoff winners, but it is worth it to note there were two games played this year. A 5-2 victory by the Bruins and a 2-1 victory by the Blues.

The 5-2 victory came while the Blues were still trying to figure themselves out. Boston went 1-for-2 on the powerplay and St. Louis struggled to score on three powerplays.

The 2-1 victory, by the Blues, came after they figured out who they were going to be. Neither team did any damage on special teams and it was the Bruins who won the possession battle. Binnington proved to be the difference, allowing only one of the 32 shots to get past him.

Cover the Spread 365 NHL Betting Trends

St. Louis Blues

The total has gone OVER in 4 of St. Louis’ last 6 games.

St. Louis are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games.

St. Louis are 7-2 SU in their last 9 games on the road.

Boston Bruins

The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Boston’s last 10 games.

Boston are 7-0 SU in their last 7 games.

Boston are 5-1 SU in their last 6 games at home.

Free NHL Predictions St. Louis Blues vs Boston Bruins

Do you believe that Rask will continue his dominance or will the law of averages catch up with him? That’s the real question. The Blues have had a very “up-and-down” playoffs. They’ve lost big, won tight, and dominated.

The Bruins have face adversity too, but their path to the Finals hasn’t really felt like it was in question since the first round.

So, I come back to the question of whether or not Rask will continue to dominate? I don’t and I’d pick the Blues to take this series because of it. But I’m not convinced the Blues are taking game one.

Fortunately, we are measuring the Puckline in this game and I do believe that these games will be close.

Therefore:

Pick: St. Louis Blues +1.5

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