As the Stanley Cup Finals come to a close Bruins fans are starting to point fingers at Tuukka Rask. Well, sorry Boston, the Bruins were never going to win the Stanley Cup in 2019.
Sure, you can say the Vegas odds makers had the Bruins at huge favourites. You can also say that most people honestly didn’t have faith in Jordan Binnington. Why would they? He was a fourth string goalie playing in the Boston farm system in December.
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Very little amount of people had faith in the St. Louis Blues and we aren’t quite sure exactly why.
The St. Louis Blues had more points than any team from January 1st until the end of the year. Even with that, mostly everyone said the Tampa Bay Lightning were the cup favourites. Considering Tampa had the best entire regular season in NHL history and won the dreaded Presidents Trophy who could argue that point.
The argument though could have been made for the St. Louis Blues. The Blues aren’t a high flying team. What the Blues had was size, strength, goaltending and depth. I don’t believe the fourth line of Tampa could beat St. Louis. In fact we had Boston beating Tampa in the Eastern Conference Finals.
We know that you could have never predicted Columbus beating Tampa. Never mind sweeping Tampa, but in a best of seven series you never know I guess.
Here is the breakdown of why we picked the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup. We picked them before the playoffs and we aren’t bragging. Our pick was made on a belief that the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be a different brand of hockey.
The argument could without a doubt be made that the NHL cannot sustain an 82 game regular season at the physicality and intensity of the playoffs. You would have way to many injuries and the league would lose revenue and teams would suffer.
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This is all fine and dandy but in a league with extreme parity you can bet your bottom dollar that in a 8 to 9 week season that the league, players and fans benefit from hard hitting, high intensity playoff hockey.
This is partly why teams like Calgary and Tampa will not win a cup when its played at that pace. Full disclosure here is that I have been a Calgary Flames fan since 1987. My all-time favourite Flames players were Fleury, Iginla and even Mike Vernon.
The St. Louis Blues played almost the most basic hockey that I have seen in a very, very long time. They didn’t appear to me to have a “system”. If you call finishing checks, cycling down low, feeding the point and having outstanding goaltending a “system” then okay, thats their “system”, in my eyes.
The Blues were the best team and no team was ever going to beat them in a best of seven this year.”GoalHorn.com
As we mentioned above, the Blues from January 1st on were the best team in hockey. They had finished the regular season from that point on with 65 points.
The next five teams behind them were Tampa, Carolina, Boston, NY Islanders and Calgary. Do you see a trend here? Maybe finishing stronger is more important than starting stronger. As long as you aren’t that far out but then again the Blues were in last place so the run is even more important.
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Would anyone have made a big deal about the Blues if they had lost to the Winnipeg Jets? How about the Dallas Stars? or even the Sharks and in the end the Bruins? No, people would have said they made a good run and weren’t suppose to win considering there standing on January 1st.
The St. Louis Blues played playoff hockey for about three and a half months before the playoffs even started. They won because they were the best team.
Tuukka Rask is probably the best goalie right now in the NHL. He had an amazing save percentage all through the playoffs and in the regular season. We have heard that Boston fans are going nuts saying they lost because of him.
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The Bruins didn’t lose because of him. They were only in the Stanley Cup Final because of him. During the earlier rounds of the playoffs the only team that came close to beating the Bruins was the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Had the Toronto Maple Leafs played Tavares and Mathews more they may have won. Unfortunately for them they decided not to and Boston capitalized on that mistake.
After Toronto the Bruins breezed through Columbus and Carolina and had amazing goaltending. Had Rask been off then Columbus would have prevailed against Boston.
How we seen the playoffs unfolding was a Tampa vs. Boston matchup in the second round and we believed Boston would have beaten Tampa because of Rask and because they have more depth.
Tuukka Rask deserved to be criticized for his play in game 7 but they wouldn’t have been there if it weren’t for him in the first place.
What can we say about Jordan Binnington that hasn’t already been said? He was a fourth string goalie and made the most of his chance in the NHL.
Binnington played absolutely stellar in the first 3 rounds but did appear shaky in the finals at times. The young 25 year old tender really did something special though and he won game 5 and game 7.
Jordan Binnington will definitely get a raise in the off season. He was signed to a 1 year deal at a reported $650,000. The Blues will be smart to lock him up long term. He is a winner and even if his play falls off a cliff someone will take a chance with him. He is a Stanley Cup Champ so you can never take that away.
Game 7 Stanley Cup Final
After blowing a chance to close out the series at home the St.Louis Blues were on to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the winner would be the Stanley Cup Champion.
The game was played in Boston but that wouldn’t bother the Blues with at the start of the game they had a 9-3 record on the road during the playoffs. With Barbachev back in the line up the Blues looked poise to win one on the road.
The first period seemed to tilt toward the Blues end but Jordan Binnington closed the door time and time again. Then the unthinkable happened for Boston.
Bouwmeester took a shot from the point and was tipped in front by Ryan O’Reilly and the Blues were up 1-0. In typical fashion the Blues would take this lead.
We said earlier that the Blues didn’t appear to have a fancy system and this was just another example of that. The puck and play started from behind the Boston net and was shot to the point. The point man passed and shot it and it got tipped in front. Thats basic hockey.
The Blues didn’t finish the first slow either. On a sloppy play by Brad Marchand the Blues Shawrtz just made a spectacular heads up play. Coming in on Marchand who was flat footed Shwartz uses the boards to get around Marchand and passes it back to Pietrangelo, who then slipped it past Rask.
The second period was typical St.Louis. They had the lead and they forced the Bruins to the outside on every play. They proceeded to keep the clock running and killed a bunch of time.
At one point in the second the Blues came close. They hit the cross bar with a bounce off of Tuukka Rask. Chara stopped the puck from crossing the line and it remained 2-0.
The third period proved to be a successful one for the Blues. The third Blues goal was another example of getting the puck low and sending it to the slot. Tarasenko chased the puck to the corner and before getting there took a little look over his shoulder and slid it out to the slot to Schenn and he put it off the post and in behind Tuukka Rask for a 3-0 lead.
The Blues weren’t finished there as they had one more in them to close it out. Perron came out of the corner and fed Sanford who slammed it past Rask and made it 4-0.
In the end Boston would get one past Binnington but it wouldn’t matter and the Blues won Game 7, 4-1.