Blues vs. Bruins: PHT predicts 2019 Stanley Cup Final

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The long road of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs has brought us to the Stanley Cup Final as the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues feature in the best-of-seven series. The Bruins are looking for their seventh Cup title and first since 2011, while the Blues are hoping to claim their first ever championship.

Here’s the full Cup Final schedule:

(All times ET, subject to change).

GAME 1Monday, May 27: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
GAME 2Wednesday, May 29: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET,  NBCSN
GAME 3Saturday, June 1: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
GAME 4Monday, June 3: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*GAME 5Thursday, June 6: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*GAME 6Sunday, June 9: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*GAME 7Wednesday, June 12: St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins | 8 p.m. ET, NBC
*If necessary

You can also stream every single game of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final by clicking here.

Now on to the predictions. Let us know in the comments how you think the series is going to play out.

SEAN: Bruins in 6. It won’t take long for the Bruins to say goodbye to any of the rust they’ve accumulated since the 11 days following their four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes. Once they get over that they’ll go back to getting strong production from their top line, quality special teams, timely scoring from their secondary contributors and continued Conn Smythe Trophy worthy play from Tuukka Rask.

JAMES: Bruins in 6. Expect a touch of rust from the B’s early on in this series, but considering the age of the non-Pastrnak-sectors of the Bruins’ core, the rest should be worth it. Rask’s just as hot as Binnington, the Bruins’ power play is a game-changer, and Boston can adapt to any style, including the Blues’ rough-and-tumble ways. Boston’s reign of sports terror continues with another Bruins championship.

ADAM: Blues in 6. Maybe it’s just because we are so used to seeing Boston teams winning championships when they have the chance to play for one, but there seems to be this sentiment that another Boston-based team is just going to cruise to victory in this series. I am not buying it, friends. The Blues have been every bit as good as them over the second half of the season and the playoffs and have everything clicking for them right now. Vladimir Tarasenko is playing like a monster, Jaden Schwartz has been white-hot all postseason, and even though Jordan Binnington has had his occasional tough games, he has rebounded well every single time and has played great in big moments. Add in the fact the Blues have been a lockdown team defensively and this is a rock solid team from top to bottom. They kicked the door down to finally get back in the Stanley Cup Final and now they are going to walk through it and take it. 

JOEY: Blues in 7. The Blues made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final while getting marginal even-strength production from Vladimir Tarasenko and just five combined goals from Brayden Schenn and Ryan O'Reilly. Tarasenko has started heating up at the perfect moment, O’Reilly picked up three assists in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final and Schenn also found the back of the net in that win. Combine that with the fact that Jordan Binnington is playing at a high level right now, and you have a team that’s built for the Stanley Cup.

SCOTT. Bruins in 7. I picked Boston from the start and that’s not going to change. What I do expect, however, is one hell of a series. The Blues have proven to the world how good they are, how much quality they’re getting between the pipes and how they can bounce back from losses. But Tuukka Rask has been better than Binnington and while St. Louis has some great players — take nothing away — if the likes of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak are on their game, I don’t see how the Blues can negotiate that.

RYAN: Blues in 7. The Bruins have the star power, the depth, and the hot goaltender that you want to see in a Cup contender, but I think St. Louis’ cold start to the season has led to them being underestimated while Boston might have been put a bit too much on a pedestal recently. Ultimately, why I’m giving the Blues the edge is because I look at the competition they had to go through to get here in Winnipeg, Dallas, and San Jose, and I think they’re the team that has been more thoroughly tested in these playoffs. One recent example that’s particularly impressive is how they responded to losing Game 3 in the Western Conference Final due to a goal off a hand pass by winning the next three games. Jordan Binnington seemed particularly angry immediately after that call, but he simply shook it off to play a key role in Game 4 and allow a mere two goals over his final three games. Meanwhile, the Bruins had a hard fought series against Toronto, but after that, they were facing teams that were good, but not battle hardened or necessarily ready for the next step. It also likely doesn’t do the Bruins any favors that they last played on May 16 and Game 1 is set for May 27. That could give the Blues a little extra edge in Game 1 that they need to take a contest in Boston, especially if seven games are needed.

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREVIEW
Who has the better forwards?
Who has the better defensemen?
Who has the better goaltending?
Who has the better special teams?

X-factors
PHT Power Rankings: Conn Smythe favorites
How the Blues were built
How the Bruins were built
Stanley Cup Final 2019 schedule, TV info

Stars sign 41-goal scorer Jason Robertson to 4-year, $31M deal

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FRISCO, Texas — Jason Robertson signed a four-year, $31 million contract with the Dallas Stars after the young 40-goal scorer missed the first two weeks of training camp.

The Stars announced the deal after their exhibition game in Denver, only a week before the regular season opener Oct. 13 at Nashville.

Robertson turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when the left wing had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. His 13 power-play goals led the team. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

“Jason is an integral part of the present and future of our team and we’re thrilled to have him for the next four years,” general manager Jim Nill said.

A second-round draft pick (39th overall) by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. The 6-foot-3 California native had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

“Since he was drafted by our organization, he has worked tirelessly to become a better player every day. His knack for scoring goals and seeing plays develop on the ice are just some of the tremendous assets that he brings to our team,” Nill said. “He is one of the best young players in the NHL, and we look forward to seeing him continue to progress.”

Robertson had the second-highest point total for a Stars rookie in 2020-21, when he had 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in his 51 games.

Before the start of this season’s camp, new coach Pete DeBoer said he looked forward to coaching Robertson.

“Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here,” DeBoer said then. “So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

Robertson will finally be there now.

Coaching carousel leaves 10 NHL teams with new face on bench

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The coaching carousel spun a little faster than usual across the NHL, meaning nearly a third of the league will have someone new behind the bench this season. And not just bottom-feeders making changes.

Ten teams go into the season next month with a new coach, from Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida and perennial playoff-contending Boston to rebuilding Chicago and San Jose.

John Tortorella will try to whip Philadelphia into shape, Bruce Cassidy is tasked with getting Vegas back to the playoffs and Derek Lalonde takes his two Stanley Cup rings as a Tampa Bay assistant to his new challenge with the Detroit Red Wings.

TORTS REFORM

Philadelphia players knew they were in for some changes when Tortorella was hired, so they asked Cam Atkinson, who spent six years playing for the no-nonsense coach in Columbus.

“I keep telling them like he’s a guy that’s going to change the whole dynamic of this organization,” Atkinson said.

Tortorella has not shied away from saying a culture change is needed after a last-place finish and a decade with one playoff series win. There is likely not much he and players can do this year about a Cup drought that dates to 1975, but they can start with maddeningly inconsistent stretches of games that have plagued the Flyers for years, no matter the roster.

BIG MO

The Panthers were the league’s best team in the regular season last year but struggled in the playoffs before losing in the second round to cross-state rival Tampa Bay in five games. That was enough for general manager Bill Zito to decide to move on from interim coach Andrew Brunette and hired seasoned veteran Paul Maurice.

The expectation is to get back to the playoffs and compete for the Cup, and having Maurice at the helm was one of the factors that made power forward Matthew Tkachuk pick Florida as his trade-and-sign destination.

“He’s got high hopes for our team,” Tkachuk said. “He sees us playing in a certain way that’s going to make us successful. And he’s done it. He’s been around the NHL a long time, been a very successful head coach and somebody that I’m really looking forward to working with.”

PLAYOFF ROTATION

Bruins GM Don Sweeney fired Cassidy after a seven-game loss to Carolina in the first round despite Boston’s sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

Vegas had already fired Peter DeBoer, making him the scapegoat for an injury-riddled fall from the top of the Western Conference that ended with the team’s first playoff miss in five years of existence. The Golden Knights quickly turned to Cassidy, who like Maurice brings experience and gravitas to a franchise with championship aspirations.

“I think we’re very fortunate as an organization to have him as our coach,” center Jack Eichel said. “Every single person I’ve spoke to about them, they said the same thing: that he’s got a really, really great knack for the game and to able to make adjustments and he understands things. Very, very competitive — wants to win, has won a lot of hockey games over the last few years.”

The Bruins replaced Cassidy with Jim Montgomery, a hockey lifer getting a second chance after being fired by Dallas in December 2019 for inappropriate conduct. Montgomery sought and received help at a rehab facility and got a big endorsement from the staff with St. Louis, the team he was working for as an assistant.

“He’s a winner,” Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman said. “I think guys are going to thrive on that energy.”

The Stars completed the circle by hiring DeBoer, who has coached two teams (New Jersey in 2012 and San Jose in 2016) to the final and is on his fifth stop around the league.

“This is a tough league and it’s a tough one to coach in and you have to be able to handle situations,” GM Jim Nill said. “I know Pete can do it.”

LAMBERT ISLAND

Lane Lambert served as an assistant under Barry Trotz with Nashville, Washington – where they won the Cup together – and the Islanders. When Trotz was abruptly fired after New York missed the playoffs for the first time in his four seasons on the job, his right-hand man got the gig with his endorsement.

Longtime executive Lou Lamoriello thought his team needed a new voice. But Lambert isn’t that new, and his familiarity with the Islanders keeps some continuity.

“Barry was great for our team, and having Lane as an assistant, he had lots of say, as well,” forward Mathew Barzal said. “As a group, we all have a good relationship with him, so I think it’ll be an easy transition for our team.”

MORE NEW VOICES

The final coaching change of the offseason came in San Jose, with ownership and interim management firing Bob Boughner and his assistants before Mike Grier took over as GM. Grier hired David Quinn, who most recently coached the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics after spending three years with the Rangers.

Rick Bowness, the Stars’ interim coach when Montgomery was fired who helped them reach the final in 2020 and was not brought back, joined Winnipeg. He immediately made an impact by stripping Blake Wheeler of the Jets captaincy.

The other new coaches – Lalonde in Detroit and Luke Richardson in Chicago – are not expected to make such big waves.

Richardson, who briefly was acting coach for Montreal during the 2021 final when Dominique Ducharme tested positive for the coronavirus, is overseeing the start of a long-term rebuild by the Blackhawks. Lalonde was Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman’s pick to help end the storied franchise’s playoff drought.

“He believes in what he’s preaching, which I think is great walking into a new locker room,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “He’s made a great impression on the guys.”

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.