Going 4-for-5 on the penalty kill against the Boston Bruins might appear as job done against a team that came into the Stanley Cup Final operating at 34 percent.
Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Sure, limiting the Bruins to just one power-play tally is something to write home about. But taking five penalties and killing their own momentum that led to a 2-0 lead? Yeah, no need to spill any ink and lick the stamp for that letter.
The Blues showed their worth in front half of the first period, building a 1-0 lead on through Brayden Schenn by using their legs for good use on the forecheck. The recipe was there. No more ingredients were needed to make the dish any better.
And they certainly didn’t need to sabotage themselves by taking needless penalties. But after a 2-0 lead turned into a 4-2 loss in Game 1 of the Cup Final, the Blues can’t afford to allow the Bruins upset the dinner table.
The Blues spent a good chunk of the back half of the first period trying to put out their own fires. A lazy stick from David Perron and hook by Robert Thomas tempted fate,. Two offensive zone penalties in the first, ones that quashed their opportunity to open up the early wound further.
Of course, there was some unrest about some of the calls from the Blues room after the game.
“There were a couple that we weren’t sure about,” Perron said after the game. “We would have maybe liked a slashing call in the third to make it 5-on-3. I thought the refs … it’s a fast game out there.
“When you get into penalty trouble, a lot of guys sit on the bench and it’s tough to get going. That’s what happened a little bit.”
The Blues survived, for the time being.
After going up 2-0 after a minute gone in the second, they had to once again kill off a penalty — an unnecessary one, too, at that by Joel Edmundson. Then Oskar Sundqvist gave the Bruins their fourth of the game after a boneheaded (and dangerous) hit from behind.
The odds, based on Boston’s success rate, meant they were overdue for a goal. They had already missed on some chances on earlier attempts, and after they made it 2-1 earlier in a 5-on-5 situation, the dam finally broke for St. Louis as Charlie McAvoy‘s snipe tied the game 2-2 with Sundqvist stapled to his seat in the sin bin.
It’s stuff like this that’s going to grind Craig Berube’s gears, especially after they were dominating the shot share in the first period.
They were outplaying Boston, then they handed the game over to them and the Bruins took full advantage.
“It’s obviously a big thing,” Berube said. “We’ve been real disciplined most of all playoffs, pretty much. We weren’t tonight, obviously, with five penalties. We’ve got to be better there.”
Blues-Bruins Game 2 is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET from TD Garden on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck