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St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins

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St. Louis Blues (2-2, best of seven) @ Boston Bruins (2-2, best of seven)

June 06, 2019, 8:00 PM EST (TD Garden)

Moneyline: St. Louis Blues +140/Boston Bruins -160

Puckline: Boston Bruins -1.5

Over/Under: 5.5

ESPN NHL Scores: Boston Bruins vs St. Louis Blues

Through four games we have a tired series. While the Bruins have shown they should be the favorites, the Blues are the first team to overcome adversity.

Getting blown out in game three (St. Louis’ first chance to cash in on some home-ice advantage) appeared to get rattled after a couple of soft goals and eventually started waving the white flag.

Losing game four would have surely doomed the Blues to being a notorious Stanley Cup Finals disappointment, but they fought hard, owned the puck and earned a series-tying victory.

St. Louis Blues

St. Louis, as one would expect, is the second ranked team in goal differential (second to Boston) and has racked up 68 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 don’t lead all teams in playoff goals anymore, as injuries and Jordan Binnington seemed to be the final the nail in the proverbial 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.

Obviously he continued that streak after game four’s results were in.

His 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 14-7, 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 +28 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 seven. His seven goals have helped him reach his playoff total of nine (9), 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 21 points is good for best in the playoffs right now. Marchand has done his best to bring his pest-like 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 14 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, 630
  • 1st in Save Percentage, .938
  • 1st in GAA, 1.96
  • 1st in Shutouts, 2
  • 1st in wins, 14 (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 two 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 5 games.

St. Louis are 5-2 SU in their last 7 games.

St. Louis are 8-3 SU in their last 11 games on the road.

Boston Bruins

Boston are 9-2 SU in their last 11 games.

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

The total has gone OVER in 4 of Boston’s last 5 games at home.

Free NHL Predictions: St. Louis Blues @ Boston Bruins

The Bruins should be regarded as a heavy favorite (based on their statistics), but is it time for Rask to finally lose one?

If we go back to the first three rounds, there is nothing the Bruins had done that would suggest that is even possible. Every game the Bruins have lost has been due to poor offensive performances. Not being able to get passed the second goal appears to be the best way to stop the Bruins (opposed to hoping for Rask to implode)

So have the Blues figured that out?

It all depends on puck control. In games three and four, the Blues played at a completely different level f focus and determination. In game three, the Bruins owned the puck (while the game was close), earning a 66.7% CorsiFor% in 5-on-5 situations.

In game four, it was the exact opposite, with the Blues earning a 60% CorsiFor%.

All-in-all, this appears to be the big difference maker, as Rask doesn’t look ready to relinquish his claim to a possible Vezina trophy and Jordan Binnington is looking more and more like a rookie.

So the question is: will the Bruins make the proper adjustments or have the Blues figured out how to beat the Bruins?

After losses, the Bruins have been able to take a first-period lead in each of the following games. The Blues have been able to pull off victories 3 times (of their 14 wins) after being down in the first period. I think bodes well for the Blues, considering the two franchises should tighten up and the Bruins have yet to prove that they can win a low scoring affair.

If the Blues are losing, heading into the second period, they’ll be fine as long as the Bruins don’t touch that third goal. And I think there is enough defense and strategy coming from the Blues’ bench to ensure that is the case.

Pick: St. Louis Blues +140

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