If the St. Louis Blues are going to make this Stanley Cup Final a tight series again, there are certain things they’ll have to do differently than they did in Game 3 against the Boston Bruins. From Boston’s perspective, they have an opportunity to push their opponent to the brink of elimination tonight (8 p.m. ET; NBC). How do they do that?
Here are your keys to victory for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final:
• Stay out of the box:
This message applies to both teams, but it’s especially pertinent to the Blues. St. Louis has given Boston five, five and four power-play opportunities in the first three games of this series. The Bruins have found a way to score six power play goals in the Stanley Cup Final, including four in their Game 3 victory.
Whether Blues head coach Craig Berube agrees with the calls going against his team or not, the players have to find a way to play with an edge while staying disciplined. The Bruins have been carving every opponent up on special teams and that hasn’t changed in this series.
If St. Louis wants to avoid going back to Boston facing elimination, staying out of the box is something they’ll have to do. Even when the Bruins fail to score on the man-advantage, it still appears as though they create momentum for themselves by generating quality scoring opportunities.
And if they do take penalties, they have to find a way to kill them off. It doesn’t matter how lopsided the game is, teams can’t allow their opponent to have a 100 percent success rate on the man-advantage.
• Let your best players carry you to victory:
The Bruins finally got production from Brad Marchand (one assist), David Pastrnak (one goal) and Patrice Bergeron (three points) which is a scary thought if you’re the Blues. Those three have only contributed in one of the three games, yet the Bruins are still up 2-1 in this best-of-seven series. Of course, they owe a lot of their success to their depth players, too, as they’ve had 19 different skaters score goals for them during this run to the final.
At some point though, Boston will need their top guns to have big nights a little more regularly than they have been.
The same thing applies for the Blues. Ryan O'Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz need to take their game to another level if the Blues are going to even up the series. Tarasenko’s eight-game point streak was snapped on Saturday night, while Schwartz’s has yet to score a goal in this series.
If the Blues can get themselves some production from their top-six forwards, they’ll be in a great spot to even up the series tonight.
• Make life easier/tougher for Binnington:
Jordan Binnington has done a great job of bouncing back after losses since becoming the Blues starter over 50 games ago, but Saturday night was the first time he was pulled during that stretch. It probably won’t affect him heading into Game 4, but the Bruins need to test him early and often tonight.
Boston needs to rattle his cage after the disappointing performance in the last game. They can do that by generating quality scoring chances and they can also try to get to him by bumping him, getting traffic in front of him, and so on.
“I’ve got to be better,” Binnington said after Game 3, per NHL.com. “I’ve got to do a better job giving my team a chance to win. They scored three goals in the first. That’s never good. They’re a good hockey team. We have to get back to our game, stay focused.”
If you’re the Blues, you want to protect your goalie as much as you can. As we mentioned before, stay out of the box to limit the quality scoring chances and make sure you play a tight game in front of him. Don’t allow the Bruins to get easy access to the slot and make sure you limit high-danger chances. Your goalie has bailed you out on multiple occasions, and now it’s time for you to repay the favor.