Blues vs. Bruins: Three keys to Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final


Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues  is set for tonight (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). These two teams have used excellent goaltending and their incredible depth to push them to this point. But how can they gain the early advantage in this best-of-seven series?

Let’s take a look at the three keys to victory ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final:

Winning the special teams battle:

The Bruins head into this series rocking some incredible numbers on special teams. Their power play which is ranked first in the playoffs is clicking at 34 percent, while their penalty kill is at 86.3 percent (that’s fourth in the postseason). On the other hand, the Blues’ power play is firing at 19.4 percent and their penalty kill is at 78 percent.

Clearly, the Bruins have an advantage in this area heading into Game 1. Not only do the Blues have to find a way to limit Boston’s power-play opportunities, they need to make sure they can get some production on the man-advantage. The good news, is that Vladimir Tarasenko is starting to come around.

The Russian winger picked up at least one point in each of the games in the Western Conference Final and he’s picked up a power-play point in each of his last three games. Getting contributions on special teams will be an important part of Game 1 and this entire series.


Depth contributions: 

The depth players on both sides have played important role for their teams throughout the postseason. The Bruins have 19 different goal scorers during their fun to the Stanley Cup Final, which is nothing short of remarkable in today’s game. They can get goals from all over their lineup at any time. As good as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are, they’ll need help if the Bruins are going to win their second title of the decade.

As for the Blues, they can also rely on a lethal first line, which is made up of Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Tarasenko, but other players have also come up big for them in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Robert Bortuzzo scored a huge overtime goal in the Western Conference Final, and the fourth line of Oskar Sundqvist, Alex Steen and Ivan Barbashev have also made a difference.

Both top lines will get the toughest possible matchups throughout this series, so continuing to get scoring from unlikely sources will be huge for any team looking to take an early lead in this series. Both teams are also coming off long layoffs (Bruins haven’t played in 10 days and the Blues have been off for five days) which means getting off to an electric start may prove to be difficult. Having multiple lines going will be important in Game 1, especially early.

Limiting the slot shots: 

The Bruins have generated 150 high-danger chances throughout the playoffs. Only the San Jose Sharks (167) have created more of those chances in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. As for the Blues, they rank third in that category with 148 chances for. The biggest difference between these two teams is the amount of chances they’ve given up. St. Louis has allowed 169 high-danger chances against, which is 39 more than the Bruins have given up (all stats obtained via Natural Stat Trick).

Both goalies in this series, Tuukka Rask and Jordan Binnington, have been outstanding throughout the playoffs. They can cover up some of their teams’ breakdowns, but asking them to stand on their head might be a little much at this point. These are the two best teams in the league and asking the goalies to steal the show might be a little much.

These teams are both loaded with size, which they’ll have to use if they’re going to prevent the opponent from getting into dangerous scoring areas. This series is going to be a battle, and it all starts tonight.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.