ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube is making some changes for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC; live stream) against the Boston Bruins.
Zach Sanford will be up on the second line back with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. Robby Fabbri will be scratched with Oskar Sundqvist back from suspension and Sammy Blais will be with Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon.
“I thought that was a real good line last game for us,” said Berube. “I thought [Sanford] was strong on the puck. He’s got good hands, he’s got real good puck skills and I thought that he had composure with the puck and he moved his feet and he was strong on it.”
The big return will be on the blue line where Vince Dunn will be back after a six-game absence taking the place of Robert Bortuzzo. Dunn took a puck to the mouth in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final and will be on a third pairing with Carl Gunnarsson. The Blues will get a boost in moving the puck, an area that needs improvement, with the 22-year-old’s return.
“He moves the puck as good as anybody on our team from our on end out transition-wise,” said Berube. “Dunn has the ability of doing high-end things in the offensive zone sometimes. Not all the time, but there’s just times where he can do things that wow you a little bit and make a great play, or score a goal from nothing. He can make something from nothing a lot of time in those areas.”
It hasn’t been an easy three weeks for Dunn, who recorded seven points in 16 playoff games prior to the injury. He currently has a mouth full of wires and has been consuming a little food and a lot of shakes to maintain weight.
[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
“It feels like I have a mouthguard in at all times,” Dunn said Monday. “It’s not the easiest to be eating things. But other than that, I can’t really complain. I’m here in the finals, it’s very special to me, it’s very special to all of us.”
The Blues have had a difficult time transitioning out of their own zone and stopping the Bruins from maintaining possession and creating high-danger scoring chances. Dunn’s ability on the blue line to move the puck quickly and successfully out of the defensive zone will be a huge addition as they face the prospect of a 3-1 deficit.
“We need to just move the puck up when the play’s there — not over-handle it, not overthink things — just make the play that’s in front of you,” Dunn said. “Our forwards have done a great job on the walls all season. We need to continue to trust them to be able to break the puck out, for our centers to support that underneath.
“I think the key to our game is to get out of our end, get through the neutral zone and get into the forecheck. I think our forwards are very good at cycling the puck and establishing a forecheck early. The faster we can do that I think the faster we’ll get to our game.”
Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Monday (stream here).
• Berube keeping the faith in Binnington after rough Game 3
• Stanley Cup photos inside Bruins’ dressing room serve as inspiration
• Conn Smythe Power Rankings entering Game 4
• Fan runs 28 miles with giant Blues flag to attend Game 3
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.