Versus ran a special episode of “NHL Live” that featured in-depth information regarding the league’s “concussion epidemic.” You can read some PHT pieces on the subject here, here and here. In the video below, Keith Jones and Pierre McGuire discuss how Rule No. 48 and other measures are sending a message to cut down on hits to the head.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
The St. Louis Blues have eliminated the San Jose Sharks in six games, and now the the 2019 Stanley Cup Final matchup is set.
Beginning with Game 1 on Monday, May 27 at TD Garden, the Blues will battle the Boston Bruins.
If a Game 7 is needed, it will take place on Wednesday, June 12, in Boston at 8 p.m. ET.
The Bruins are playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 2013 and are trying to win it for the first time since 2011. The Blues went to the Cup Final in each of their first three years in the NHL, with their last appearance coming in 1970. They are looking for their first championship.
Here is the complete schedule for the entire series
(All times ET, subject to change).
Monday, May 27: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Wednesday, May 29: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Saturday, June 1: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Monday, June 3: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Thursday, June 6: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Sunday, June 9: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Wednesday, June 12: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
• Patrick Roy and Sens GM Pierre Dorion were spotted leaving a hotel in Montreal on Tuesday. (Ottawa Citizen)
• TSN’s Travis Yost breaks down whether or not Patrick Roy is a good fit for the Ottawa Senators. (TSN)
• Should women’s hockey align with the NHL? It may not be as good of an idea as you think. (The Hockey News)
• Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is leaving the Boston Bruins to sign in the Swedish Hockey League. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)
• Find out how soccer could be the key to fixing officiating in the NHL. (NBC Sports Washington)
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Seeing the famous photo of Bobby Orr scoring the 1970 Stanley Cup-winning goal to beat his St. Louis Blues doesn’t bring back bad memories for Scotty Bowman.
”Not really,” the legendary coach said. ”Because we didn’t have a big opportunity to win that series.”
Orr and the big, bad Boston Bruins swept Bowman’s overmatched, expansion-era Blues in that series. Now 49 years later, Boston is in its third final in nine seasons and St. Louis is back for the first time since 1970, but this Bruins-Blues rematch is a showdown between two of the NHL’s best teams since Jan. 1.
”Now it’s more level,” Bowman said. ”(The Blues) don’t give a lot of room in their end, and of course their goalie’s been lights out.”
Coming off a sweep of Carolina in the Eastern Conference final, the Bruins are favored in the series that begins Monday in Boston. Goaltender Tuukka Rask is the front-runner to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Brad Marchand is playing some of the best hockey of his career with 18 points in 17 games, and there’s a mix of veterans from the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team and fresh players eager to get their names etched on the trophy.
”I think as you get older, you appreciate it even more, and you realize how hard it is to get to this point and advance and be thankful and stay in the moment,” center Patrice Bergeron said. ”But then it’s back to work, and there’s a lot of work in front of us.”
Unlike in 1970, when the Bruins essentially just had to step on the ice to take the final, these Blues won’t go away. They woke up last in the league Jan. 3 before winning 30 of their final 45 games to roll into the playoffs, where they beat the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks.
Bowman, who has coached a record nine Cup champions, only in recent days realized the Blues hadn’t been to the final since he was there. He met his wife, Suzanne, when she was a nurse in St. Louis and he has a soft spot for this team because of connections to former players of his: consultant/assistant coach Larry Robinson and ambassadors Bob Plager and Brett Hull.
He also likes the size of the Blues’ blue line.
”They’re all big, every one of them,” Bowman said. ”Their defense is very big and the right type of aggressiveness. They don’t take a ton of penalties.”
The Blues and Bruins are among the most disciplined teams in the playoffs, which has helped them reach this point. Now they’ll have to deal with another issue: idle hands with so much time off.
Boston will have a week and a half between finishing off Carolina and Game 1, and even St. Louis will go six days without playing. Bowman during his coaching career recalled making his players scrimmage at night to keep them in a rhythm, but there’s no real substitute for the grind of the playoffs.
”I can’t believe how long they’re going to have to sit out,” Bowman said. ”It’s quite a trick because they were on such a high.”
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
- For the first time since 1970, the Blues are going to the Stanley Cup Final. Remarkably, they’ll face the same opponent in the Bruins. To make it to Round 4, they had to dispatch the Sharks, which they managed in Game 6 on Tuesday.
Once again, the Blues raced off to a hot start, with David Perron giving them a 1-0 lead just 1:32 into Game 6. They ended the first period up 2-0, and while the Sharks put up a stubborn fight on Tuesday, it didn’t really feel like the contest was ever in doubt. Any time the Sharks seemed to push to make things closer, the Blues either stomped out their scoring chances or scored a gut-punch of a goal. San Jose simply ran out of gas, although St. Louis would argue that it was because they emptied the Sharks’ tank.
“ROR” generated three assists in Game 6, and none of those helpers came on the empty-net goal.
It was a strong all-around effort from O’Reilly even beyond the scoring, as he finished Game 6 with a +2 rating, went 12-6 on faceoffs, and delivered a hit during 18:28 TOI. O’Reilly had been kept off of the scoreboard for three consecutive games, so this is a nice outburst for the two-way center as he readies for what’s sure to be some tough matchups as St. Louis pivots to preparing for the Boston Bruins.
Thanks to some great play from the likes of Colton Parayko, the Blues were mostly able to keep the battered Sharks to the perimeter. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to work with, which remains consistent to the way St. Louis has played for most of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and really how the Blues have played for the last few months.
Binnington’s steady presence in net is the number one reason that can work, though.
For most of the third period, the Blues sat on what began as a 3-1 lead, while the Sharks desperately pushed for goals by way of a 10-3 shots on goal advantage during the final 20 minutes. None of their attempts worked well enough to bring them back into the game, as Binnington ended the night making 25 out of 26 saves, including some key late stops against Evander Kane and especially Logan Couture.
Can the remarkable rookie win the goalie duel against Tuukka Rask? It figures to be one of his toughest tests yet.
3. David Perron
This was a great team effort for the Blues, making it tempting to place someone like Parayko as one of the three stars.
Yet, it’s worth mentioning Perron, particularly since he’s one of those forwards who keeps putting up points, yet continues to be overlooked. Perron helped the Golden Knights make it to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, and now he’s back in Round 4 during his latest run with the Blues.
Perron finished Game 6 with a goal and a primary assist, with his goal being especially important. Again, it was the 1-0 tally very early on, allowing the Blues to nurse (and enhance) another 1-0 lead quickly into a contest. The Blues are tough enough to score against when all things are even, but become even more oppressive when they have a lead. This is now the fifth time they’ve scored a goal within the first two minutes of a game during this run, and the Blues are 5-0 in those games.
Bigger names like O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jaden Schwartz have been heating up lately, but Perron is the type of player who might be able to swing what could be a tightly matched series versus the Bruins.
- The Blues are the first team of the expansion era to make a Stanley Cup Final after being ranked last place in the league at any point. That they did so after being in such a rut so deep into 2018-19 (last on Jan. 2) makes this run even more remarkable.
- Alex Pietrangelo reached 13 points during this postseason, placing him first-all time among defensemen in Blues history for scoring during a single playoff run.
- Again, Tarasenko’s been heating up, as he managed a point in every game during the 2019 Western Conference Final.
Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place in Boston at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. Click here for the full schedule and TV info.
The last time the St. Louis Blues made it to a Stanley Cup Final, it was all the way back in 1969-1970. They were swept by the Boston Bruins during that long-ago visit, with Bobby Orr’s famous leaping goal putting a bow on things. So, the current-day Blues hope that this … “rematch” goes far better.
To get this far, the Blues had to beat the San Jose Sharks, the team that most recently knocked them out of a Round 3 series back in 2015-16.
An injured Sharks team just didn’t have enough to push through the bruising Blues in Game 6 on Tuesday, as St. Louis won 5-1 to win the series 4-2. With that, the Blues will take on what’s sure to be a well-rested (maybe too rested?) Bruins team in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
An empty-netter inflated the score in Game 6, and Tyler Bozak‘s 4-1 insurance tally happened fairly late in the proceedings, so this one was pretty close at times. That said, the Sharks ultimately only got so close before the Blues pulled far ahead.
Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final takes place in Boston at 8 p.m. ET on Monday. Click here for the full schedule and TV info.
Tough start, and finish, for Sharks
Being without Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson, and Tomas Hertl was already a tough way for San Jose to start Game 6, and didn’t really get better from there, as David Perron deflected a puck past Martin Jones to make it 1-0 for St. Louis just 1:32 in. Things looked pretty dire for the Sharks heading into the first intermission, after Vladimir Tarasenko‘s power-play goal made it 2-0.
Credit the Sharks for continuing to fight, but credit the Blues for taking it to the Sharks to give San Jose little hope of actually winning that fight.
Dylan Gambrell ended up being one of the Sharks who drew into action thanks to all of those injuries, so he made for a great story by scoring his first NHL goal in his first playoff game. The Sharks embraced that added life, briefly, as Logan Couture almost scored before Colton Parayko cleared the puck from Jordan Binnington‘s crease. But it remained 2-1, and Gambrell’s goal ended up being a fun footnote instead of a turning point.
Not long after that brief surge, the Blues got their two-goal lead right back. Brayden Schenn‘s been agonizingly close to scoring for a while now, so he was clearly relieved when he scored the 3-1 goal on the power play. Maybe that goal drought explains the creativity of Schenn’s sword-sheathing celebration?
Blues, Binnington shut the door
It wasn’t just Schenn who was struggling to score late in this series. The Sharks, as a team, were just as cold when it came to piercing the Blues’ defense, and during the rare moments when they found space, Binnington was usually up to the task.
The Blues were clearly content to sit on their 3-1 lead during the third period, and Binnington made sure that such a strategy worked out. He made some tremendous saves against Evander Kane and Logan Couture, including stopping Couture on a semi-breakaway, earning a big cheer from an appreciative crowd in St. Louis.
The Blues won Game 4 by a score of 2-1, then handed the Sharks a disastrous 5-0 defeat in Game 5. So, during these last three games, San Jose only managed two goals overall. Heading into the postseason, it seemed like Martin Jones would be the problem if the Sharks fell short. While Jones faced his highs and lows, the Sharks’ seemingly explosive lineup simply ran out of firepower.
Now, the Sharks must face an uncertain offseason with Erik Karlsson, Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Gustav Nyquist heading toward unrestricted free agency. As much as this run has been about the likes of Hertl and Timo Meier (a pending RFA) emerging as the future of the Sharks alongside Couture, the Sharks’ path ahead seems a little murky. This was a memorable and exciting run for the Sharks, yet it ends with that all-too-familiar empty feeling.
The Blues, meanwhile, face a straightforward future, but one that likely brings plenty of bumps in the road. Beat the Bruins and win that first-ever Stanley Cup, or repeat decades-old history.