ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues have played with fire through two games of the Stanley Cup Final and have been lucky to have only been burned twice.
The Blues have handed the Boston Bruins 10 power plays through two games with Boston, who owned a 34% success rate entering the Cup Final, capitalizing twice. The penalty parade disrupted momentum in the Game 1 and while it continued into Game 2, St. Louis was fortunate it didn’t cost them and result in an 0-2 hole heading for Game 3 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN; live stream).
One reason for the Bruins power play not having as big of an impact in the series so far is their lack of shots to test Jordan Binnington. Head coach Bruce Cassidy implored his power play units to shoot the puck more after garnering only 14 on 10 opportunities. Some of that is due to poor executive, but credit can also be given to the Blues’ penalty killers.
Using Patrice Bergeron in the bumper spot — between the circles — hasn’t worked as the Blues have kept him under wraps with only two shots on goal with the man advantage. Cassidy said the coaching staff looked at that will try to make adjustments in order to get better puck movement if Bergeron is locked down.
Then you have the issues of the Bruins’ zone entries. Instead of setting up their power play unit in the zone, they’ve often tried to force attempts off the attack, which worked on both of their goals for different reasons.
Charlie McAvoy’s goal in Game 1 was the result of open ice due to the Blues getting caught in a change:
“Some of that will take away from your sets,” said Cassidy. “But again, I give [the Blues] credit the other night. I thought they did a real good job and we forced too many plays and as a result you’re doing wind sprints all night instead of going back on pucks.”
What the Bruins have managed to do consistently on their power plays is keep the area in front of Binnington busy.
Even when setting up the power play in the offense fails, there’s enough skill out there that the Bruins’ creativity can take over. But the bottom line remains that the Blues have to be better disciplined. Their penalty killers have been good so far, but it could still play a huge role in how a game swings. The players know that they’ve been lucky so far.
“Sometimes it’s hard,” said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, “but it’s happened to us the last couple of games here so we have to make sure coming home to control those emotions because we can see what they do on the power play.”
Blues-Bruins Game 3 is Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET from Enterprise Center on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.
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