Some say the win that clinches a series is the hardest to obtain. Presumably, the difficulty meter only ascends as the rounds progress in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues don’t appear particularly worried about what some people say. Essentially, they’ve thrown up a one-finger salute to the whole notion.
These playoffs have been a lesson that anything is possible in hockey’s second season. Whittled down to 16 teams, you have teams that won 60-plus games who got knocked out in Round 1. Defending Stanley Cup champions who hardly put up a staunch defense of their title. And then you have the teams that come in hot, defy all the odds and succeed.
The Blues have checked all these preliminary boxes. Now, they’re one win away from hoisting what every player longs for. And they’re right in their wheelhouse.
You see, in Games 5-7 of a given series in these playoffs, St. Louis has cobbled together an impressive 7-1 record, outscoring opponents 25-10 in those games. A simple calculation shows they’ve allowed two goals against or fewer in those eight game.
And perhaps most interesting, and if not more awe-inspiring, is their perfect 3-0 record when facing a potential series-clinching game, with each of those games coming at Enterprise Center — where Game 6 will be contested on Sunday (8 p.m. ET on NBC).
“We’ve done a good job in this series of sticking with that game plan regardless of what the score was,” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s a good recipe to have. But we know they’re not going to be pushed over lightly on Sunday.”
Indeed, the Bruins are hardly push-overs when trailing in a series in these playoffs.
Boston trailed in both Round 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Round 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Furthermore, they’re a force away from TD Garden when trailing a series with a 3-0 record, including a 100 percent success rate (2-0) when facing elimination.
“Listen, there’s a certain level of pressure on their team itself, as well,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They’re going home. If it doesn’t go their way, now all of a sudden they’re thinking about it. I can’t speak for their psyche. Halfway through the game, it’s not going their way, Boy, we got to go back to Boston now? Maybe they get outside of their comfort zone the way they play. There’s a challenge there for them, as well.”
And maybe they have a little history on their side.
In 2011, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in seven games against the Vancouver Canucks, who like the Blues, held a 3-2 series lead before Boston won two straight, including Game 7 in Vancouver.
So we have your classic unstoppable force meets immovable object heading into the biggest game of the season thus far. Someone will budge on Sunday night, and it will either mean the season is over or we will have yet another Game 7 to be played before summer officially begins.
MORE BLUES – BRUINS COVERAGE
- Both teams have seen officiating controversies even before Game 5.
- Bruins must move on from setback.
- Ivan Barbashev suspended for hit on Marcus Johansson.
- Blues hope to keep emotions in check.
- Cassidy rips officiating.
- Missed opportunities haunt Bruins.