St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) gets physical with Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore (27) in the third period goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in a game between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins on Sunday, June 9, 2019, at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, email@example.com
Once again, the Blues find themselves in their familiar underdog role.
Many experts doubted they could beat the Winnipeg Jets in the first round. More skepticism preceded their Final Four series against the San Jose Sharks.
Certainly nobody was expecting them to reach the Stanley Cup Final back when the playoffs started. And few experts believe they can beat the Bruins in Game 7 in Boston.
So it sets up perfectly for the Blues. To win the Cup, they must get back into the road warrior mindset and focus shift to shift on the simplest things.
Win puck battles. Get pucks out of the defensive zone. Get pucks deep into the offensive zone. Finish every check hard, but finish with composure. Get pucks and bodies at the net at every opportunity.
The Bruins won't fold up as the Sharks did. Boston has a championship-caliber team with an excellent core group of veterans. The Bruins will fight the Blues to the end.
So the Blues must hit the ice prepared to battle with everything they have from start to finish. They must empty the bucket one last time to give themselves a shot at the ultimate upset. They must persist even if they fall behind and the ice tilts against them.
They know the drill. The Blues have won 15 playoff games this season, so this is a seasoned postseason team. This group has been in a Game 7 during this run, facing elimination, in double overtime, one bad bounce away from sudden death.
They are ready for the challenge. Trouble is, the Bruins are ready too. So it will be fascinating to watch these teams tee off on each other.
Here is what folks are writing about the showdown:
Tom Gulitti,NHL.com: "The St. Louis Blues would have preferred to play Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at home on Wednesday . . . But they might be better off playing it at TD Garden. The Blues are 9-3 on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 2-1 in the Cup Final, and have consistently played their best hockey away from Enterprise Center, where they are 6-7 this postseason. So in a winner-take-all game for the Stanley Cup, they might have the Bruins exactly where they want them . . . During a 5-1 loss in Game 6 on Sunday, the Blues appeared to be impacted by the pressure of trying to win the Cup on home ice with the city of St. Louis in a frenzy in anticipation of the first championship in their 51-season history. But the Bruins also had something to do with that, playing one of their best games of the series after withstanding the Blues' initial push. Being on the road, where they can get away from some of the distractions at home, might take away some of that pressure and allow the Blues to concentrate on playing their game."
Alex Prewitt,SI.com: "This time around, it’s the Blues who will hope to quiet a home crowd, though that’s hardly been an obstacle so far this season. When St. Louis won 12 in a row between Jan. 23 and Feb. 19, pulling itself out of the Western Conference gutter, only three of those victories came on home ice. This postseason, the Blues are 9–3 away from St. Louis, dampening celebrations from Winnipeg to Dallas to San Jose while their home arena has been jammed with fans who paid for a seat and the right to watch on the EnterpriseCenter jumbotron. A road game is nothing for these Blues to fear, and perhaps a road win would fit their turnaround story to a tee."
Greg Wyshynski,ESPN.com: "The Blues are the sixth team in Stanley Cup Final history to lose Game 6 at home after leading 3-2 in the series. Of those six, only the 1945 Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back to win the Stanley Cup. And they were some odd ducks; the Leafs had actually squandered a 3-0 series lead before recovering to hoist the chalice . . . The good news is that if the Blues were going to win the Stanley Cup, it was probably going to be like this. They're 9-3 on the road, and the numbers explain why: They average 3.16 goals per game on the road vs. 2.54 at home, and they give up just 2.41 goals per game on the road vs. 3.07 at home. Ask the Blues and they'll tell you that their style of play lends itself to road success."
Don Brennan, Sun Media: "In fact, most of the sports world loves the drama of a Game 7, but the St. Louis Blues are certainly not feeling it these days. They had their best chance to win the first Stanley Cup in their history on Sunday. They had the screaming support of 18,000 in their building and another 100,000 just outside the doors. They had the momentum of two straight wins and the confidence their goalie was back on his game. Now they have none of that. Now, after their curiously flat performance in Game 6, the tide has completely turned in Boston’s favor. With a core group of veteran who beat the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Cup final and were defeated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Cup final, the B’s are best equipped to handle Wednesday’s pressure-filled showdown for all the marbles. They’ve even played, and thrived, in a Game 7 for the Cup. That’s rarified air."
Frank Seravelli,TSN.com: "This is a Stanley Cup final story of second chances – and what a coaching matchup it has been. (Craig) Berube and (Bruce) Cassidy both have their fingerprints all over these playoff runs. Cassidy seems to have the Midas touch, while Berube has pushed all the right buttons. The beauty of this final is it’s a chess match without any of the pretense. These are two coaches from the old school. There are no mind games, no I’m-not-telling-you-my-lineup changes and very little running around to shield lines from matching. It’s just my best against your best, let’s go."
Ken Campbell, The Hockey News: "When Ryan O’Reilly steps on the ice Wednesday night for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, it will be the 108th time this he has done so this season. There’s probably nobody in the world who has played that many games in 2018-19. Check that. There’s actually probably some eight-year-old kid out there who played 85 games this season for an elite travelling team, then had his insane parents put him on a spring team that played in a bunch of tournaments. That kid might have played more, but that’s a rant for another day . . . It’s one thing to play all 82 regular-season games and 26 more in the playoffs. It’s quite another to play them at the elite level in which O’Reilly has this season. He and Patrice Bergeron are finalists for the Selke Trophy and O’Reilly is also a finalist for the Lady Byng. And what makes it even more remarkable is that O’Reilly rarely takes a day off, often skating with the team even for optional practices. And if the Blues are to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a road win Wednesday night, there’s a good chance the O’Reilly Factor is going to loom large."