Blues vs. Bruins: Three keys to Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final

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Heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, a lot was made of the fact that the St. Louis Blues didn’t have as much Stanley Cup experience on their roster as the Boston Bruins did. Whether or not that played a factor in Game 1 is debatable, but the Blues will have to draw from their Game 1 experience if they’re going to get back into the series tonight (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

As for the Bruins, everyone is giving them credit from battling back from a 2-0 deficit, but they have to make sure they start Game 2 on time if they want to take a stranglehold of this series. The Blues are a good team and they’ve battled back after dropping the opening game of a series before. Boston has to be ready for that.

Here are the keys to victory ahead of Game 2:

Stay out of the box: 

This one is meant for the St. Louis, but it also applies to Boston for the same reasons. The Bruins had the number one power play in the playoffs coming into this series and they managed to get a goal on the man-advantage from Charlie McAvoy in Game 1.

Penalties are going to happen over the course of a game and a series, but the silly infractions in the offensive zone need to stop immediately for the Blues. They can’t give the Bruins another five opportunities on the power play in Game 2. Boston’s power play is too good and even when they don’t score, they find a way to draw momentum from their special teams.

“It takes a lot of guys out of the game and that burns up a lot of energy from other guys that are killing all the time… It’s too much,” head coach Craig Berube said after Game 1. “We’ve got to be better there. We’ve got to be more disciplined.”

This is the single most important adjustment the Blues need to make heading into tonight’s contest. They can’t win if they take five penalties, again.

• Need for speed: 

Vladimir Tarasenko used his speed to beat out an icing call on Brayden Schenn‘s goal in the first period, but thee Blues really seemed to stop moving their legs over the final two periods of Game 1. As much as the Bruins are known for playing a tough brand of hockey, they also have guys that can push the pace when they have to.

Some of the smaller, speedier defensemen on the Bruins roster caused a lot of problems for the Blues throughout the game. It took a while for Boston to get going, which wasn’t too surprising after their 10-day layoff, but once they started skating they were nearly impossible to slow down.

There’s no denying that this series will be physical (just ask Robert Thomas), but the speed factor can’t be lost on either team. Physicality can only take you so far at this point. Generating chances off the rush and getting to loose pucks first will be a major key in Game 2.

• Get depth contributions:

As we mentioned prior to Game 1, you can’t win a Stanley Cup without getting contributions from everyone on your roster. The Bruins have gotten goals from 19 different skaters this postseason, which is a big reason why they’re here. On Monday night, fourth-liner Sean Kuraly picked up two points including the game-winning goal, and Connor Clifton also found the back of the net.

The Blues got goals from top-liners Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko, but they weren’t able to generate much else the rest of the way. It’s a good sign that two of the top forwards on the team contributed in the opening game of the series, but they won’t be able to do it on their own.

Offensive contributions aside, Berube just needs his depth players to be better. The third pairing of Robert Bortuzzo and Carl Gunnarsson are a prime example of this, as they were fighting it in Game 1. That can’t be the case on Wednesday night.

If Boston keeps getting offense from their bottom-six forward group, there’s a good chance they’ll be hoisting the Stanley Cup at some point in the next two weeks.

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

Grade the Hurricanes’ new road uniform

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On Tuesday morning Carolina Hurricanes unveiled a new road uniform for the 2019-20 NHL season, ditching their primary storm logo on the front for some diagonal lettering that spells out “Canes.”

It is a rather simplistic design, but it is clean and pretty sharp.

Along with the wording across the front, they also brought back the warning flags along the waistline of the jersey.

Have a look.

Other features as part of the new uniform: The new secondary logo (the hockey stick with the warning flags attached to it) appears on both shoulders, while the helmet will feature a raised 3-D sticker of the primary logo which you can see here.

You can check out all of the features at the Hurricanes’ website.

What do you think, hockey fans?

Is it a good look? Does the diagonal lettering work for a team that is not the New York Rangers? What is your grade for the Hurricanes’ new road uniform?

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Panarin changes everything for Rangers

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the New York Rangers.

The last time a New York Rangers player cracked the 80-point mark in the NHL was a decade ago.

Then, Marian Gaborik was a much younger version of his self and putting up impressive seasons as a marquee player.

Since then, the Rangers haven’t really had that sort of offensive pizazz. That hasn’t always stopped them from having success, of course. But adding a guy who has the potential to hit the 100-point plateau at just 27 years of age could figure in moving that success to the next level.

Being the team playing in an attractive destination and with mountains of cash on July 1 presents a wealth of opportunities in the free-agent market and for the Rangers, it was their lucky year.

Signing Artemi Panarin long-term as he just enters the prime of his career, is the single biggest get of the summer. For any team.

Panarin brings elite scoring to a club that needs it amidst their (now accelerated) rebuild. But Panarin is so much more than just premium point producer.

His possession numbers are off-the-charts good. He’s a responsible player at both ends of the ice, creates more goals than allowed when he’s on in five-on-five situations and creates more high-danger chances than are seen against him. Furthermore, in terms of goals above replacement, Panarin was 10th in NHL this past season.

And this season, Panarin doesn’t bring a bad full of distraction with him.

Last year, questions swirled all year about his future. There will be none of those this time around.

Instead, he’s likely to be paired with Mika Zibanejad and perhaps even Kaapo Kakko in what could be something of a mega line in terms of scoring and shutting down the opposition.

Panarin is that x-factor. He brings so much to a team and he’s now in a position to lead a much younger Rangers team into what appears to be a bright future.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

It’s New York Rangers Day at PHT

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the New York Rangers.

2018-19
32-36-8, 78 points (7th in the Metropolitan Division, 12th in the Eastern Conference)
Playoffs: Did not qualify

IN:
Artemi Panarin
Jacob Trouba
Kaapo Kakko
Adam Fox
Greg McKegg

OUT: 
Neal Pionk
Kevin Hayes
Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey
Kevin Shattenkirk
Ryan Spooner
Fredrik Claesson
Connor Brickley

RE-SIGNED:
Pavel Buchnevich

2018-19 Summary

It was understood going into this past season in the Big Apple that by the end of it, the New York Rangers would be on the outside looking in.

A sell-off during the end of the 2017-18 season pointed to a re-build that would likely take a couple of seasons to fully mature.

And thus, the on-ice product for the Rangers was much less about winning games as it was about putting some of their young guns in positions to grow.

Alexandar Georgiev, for instance, was given 30 starts between the pipes as the Rangers let Henrik Lundqvist‘s heir-apparent get well-acquainted with the No. 1 spot he will one day own.

He showed well on a poor team, with the 23-year-old posting a respectable .914 save percentage.

Others, too, were given a chance to develop. The likes of Pavel Buchnevich, 24, Tony DeAngelo, 23, Filip Chytil, 19, and Lias Andersson, 20, saw significant action.

Everything was following the simple stream that is a slow rebuilding process. Well, at least until June.

In June, the Rangers found out they’d be picking second overall in the 2019 NHL Draft after moving up four spots from the six-best odds at the draft lottery. Welcome, Kaapo Kakko.

They’d acquire the rights to Jacob Trouba (and eventually sign the blue line stalwart to a seven-year deal.)

And then July 1 came and Artemi Panarin was handed $81 million over the next seven years.

The rebuild that was rolling along at a typical methodical pace suddenly slammed into sixth gear. The Rangers now added a bona fide superstar forward, a potential superstar forward and a top-pairing defenseman to the mix.

General manager Jeff Gorton wasn’t messing around, announcing his intentions to the rest of the league with his wallet open wide.

So now, the Rangers have smashed the fast-forward button. There’s no talk anymore about another growing season. Instead, the narrative has shifted to a team that could compete for a playoff spot at minimum, especially if Lundqvist can bounce back and retain his crown as ‘King’ in one final hurrah in his storied career.

The Rangers have kept pace with the New Jersey Devils and their own aggressive summer. The Metro is quite the division — perhaps the best in hockey — and the Rangers should be right back in the mix in 2019-20.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Aho reveals offer-sheet decision; Ristolainen to Red Wings?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Sebastian Aho reveals why he signed an offer sheet from the Canadiens. (Sportsnet)

• NHL farm system rankings: Best, worst prospect pipelines for 2019-20, from 1 to 31. (The Sporting News)

• Should the Red Wings trade for Rasmus Ristolainen? (The Hockey Writers)

Matthew Tkachuk‘s agent says they gave the Flames a fair offer back in June. (Sportsnet)

• Overlooked teams in fantasy for 2019-20. (NHL.com)

• The All-Decade Team for all 31 NHL teams. (ESPN)

• Breaking down the format for a potential 2021 World Cup of Hockey. (Sportsnet)

T.J. Oshie is healthy and ready to take another run at the Stanley Cup. (NHL.com)

• When adding staffers, NHL Seattle must navigate complex minefield with those currently under contract elsewhere. (Seattle Times)

• Once healthy, Shea Weber’s value to the Canadiens remained high. (Eyes on the Prize)

• Who are the biggest Penguin killers in the NHL today? (Pensburgh)

• NHL “nowhere near a resolution” on allowing players to compete at 2022 Winter Olympics. (Inside the Games)

• NHL teams as dog breeds: The complete list of hockey dogs. (FanSided)

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck