The Wraparound: Stanley Cup Final returns to St. Louis

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

It’s been a long wait for hockey fans in St.  Louis to see a Stanley Cup Final game in person — May 5, 1970, a 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins was the last one — but it finally ends on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN; Live Stream) when the series shifts to Enterprise Center for Game 3 of the now tied series.

It is sure to be a raucous environment as the Blues not only return home for the city’s first Cup Final game in nearly 50 years (after winning their first ever Stanley Cup Final game), but they also have a chance to take control of the series after wrestling home-ice advantage away from the Bruins on Wednesday night with their 3-2 overtime win.

So far it has been an incredibly close series in aggregate as the two teams have put up nearly identical numbers across the board. Through the first two games the Bruins have a 6-5 edge in goals scored, while both teams have an identical number of total shot attempts and have seen almost no difference in shots on goal or scoring chances.

Both teams have shown flashes of dominance and carried the play for stretches (the Bruins in the second half of Game 1 ; the Blues in the second half of Game 2) but overall it has balanced out.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

One area where the Blues have had a significant advantage so far in the series is the performance of their top-line.

The Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and Jaden Schwartz trio has outscored the Patrice Bergeron line by a 3-0 margin when they have been matched up head-to-head, prompting Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy to shift away from it a little bit over the first two games of the series in an effort to free them up offensively. So far, it has not really worked with Brad Marchand‘s empty-net goal at the end of Game 1 being the only goal from that line over the first two games.

Tarasenko has been especially hot for the Blues, entering Saturday on an eight-game point streak that has seen him tally 10 total points (five goals, five assists). He has a goal in four straight games entering Game 3 and has started to emerge as the Blues’ leading contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy (if they win the series) with the way he has carried the offense since the beginning of the Western Conference Final series.

Over the Blues’ past eight games he has been on the ice for 14 of the Blues’ 28 total goals (literally half!).

The only other player on the team that has been on the ice for more than 10 goals during that stretch is defender Colton Parayko, who has been on the ice for 13 … and he has played 71 more minutes than Tarasenko during that stretch.

Whether it is the Bergeron line or some other combination of matchups the Bruins are going to have to find a way to slow him down on Saturday night to avoid falling behind in the series.

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.