Vince Dunn

St. Louis Blues

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Cup heads east to Ontario

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The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

After spending its first week on the road in the Canadian prairies, the Stanley Cup headed east to Ontario over the past week.

On Friday, the Cup headed to Richmond Hill. The city has a population of 208,000 but only one of them recently won a Stanley Cup (and signed a two-year, $8.8 million deal in the past month).

The day was Jordan Binnington‘s in his hometown, which is situated just outside of Toronto.

A timeline of Binnington’s day can be found here.

Some highlights:

  • It began at Grandma’s house.
  • He got the key to the city

  • Grandpa got a drink
  • And then a cool story where Binnington’s biggest fan, Kevin, gave the goaltender a birthday card he had made up and passed along to his mother, who knew someone on the team that could deliver it to him. Unbeknownst to Kevin, his mother had kept the card so he could deliver his favorite goalie himself.

Captain Alex Pietrangelo has the cup today (Sunday, if you’re reading this in the future.)

Get in the hole has a whole new meaning here.

We will update this as they day goes along with more highlight’s from Pietrangelo’s day with the Cup.

Meanwhile, Vince Dunn also got his day and made a pitstop from a hometown parade in Lindsay, Ont., to visit a man in hospital.

Per the team’s website, Lawny Woodcock was diagnosed with colon cancer recently and won’t leave the hospital until next year.

Woodcock took a liking to the Blues after his Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs because of their Canadian contingent.

This week, he got to lift the Cup.

And this needs to explanation:

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker

Week 1: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Stanley Cup Final: Blues make lineup change; Grzelcyk game-time decision

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It looks as if the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins will both be making some lineup changes for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC; Live Stream).

Let’s start with the significant news on the Boston side where the Bruins might have all of their top defenders in the lineup for the first time since the beginning of the series. After missing the past four games, Matt Grzelcyk has been cleared for action and is officially listed as a game-time decision. If he plays, and it seems extremely likely that he will, he would replace Connor Clifton.

Grzelcyk has been sidelined since early in Game 2 when he was on the receiving end of an illegal check from Oskar Sundqvist, resulting in a one-game suspension for the Blues’ forward.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

It remains to be seen how much of an impact he can make since he hasn’t taken any contact since the injury, but the Bruins have definitely missed his ability to move the puck.

“I think your adrenaline will carry you through,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on Wednesday.

“The one thing about Matt if he does go in after missing some games is he’s been skating with us. It’s not like he just jumped on the ice yesterday. He’s been participating, albeit non-contact, so there is a little bit of a different animal there. At this time of the year you’re not into a lot of contact in practice anyway so he’s just going to have to understand, because he did obviously live the first whatever it was, game and a half with St. Louis, he knows they are physical. He’s been there. He’s been watching. He knows he’s gotta get back in a hurry, make good decisions with it, take a hit to make a play if that’s what is required, which it usually is against this team. That’s the challenge in front of him. We’ve had discussions with him about it and he’ll be ready for it.”

Two of the three Bruins’ losses in this series came in games where they were forced to finish with five defenders due to injury with Grzelcyk exiting Game 2 and Zdeno Chara being forced to miss most of Game 4 after being hit in the face with a puck. While Chara has not missed any further game action, Grzelcyk’s absence has been significant.

“If he’s able to come back and help us tonight, he’s an incredible puck mover,” said Bruins defender Charlie McAvoy. “He’s just kind of had that fire in his eye for the playoffs. He’s been playing awesome for us, and we’ve missed him terribly since he’s been out. He just gives us that extra jolt when it comes to breaking out. He’s a gifted puck-mover. If he’s back to night, I think he’ll do his job and help us out even more.”

On the St. Louis side, forward Ivan Barbashev will be returning to the lineup after missing Game 6 due to a suspension for an illegal check to the head.

He will replace rookie forward Robert Thomas on the team’s fourth line next to Alex Steen and Sundqvist.

That is not the only change the Blues will be making.

Coach Craig Berube also said that Joel Edmundson will be drawing back into the lineup in place of Robert Bortuzzo.

Why the change? With Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko playing so many minutes on the right side Berube wants to go with four left-handed defenders in his lineup.

“With Parayko and Pietrangelo on the right side, they’re just eating so many minutes up; there’s not a lot of minutes over there,” said Berube. “So, we decided to go with the four lefties, and what he can bring, he can bring a lot. I mean, he’s got some real good upside, shoots the puck well, big guy, big body, physical player, but he does do some things well in the offensive zone, so I like his shot.”

Edmundson played sparingly over the first four games of the series, recording zero points and finishing as a minus-3 in his limited minutes. Bortuzzo scored a goal for the Blues in Game 2 of the series in Boston and also scored a game-winning goal in the Western Conference Final series against the San Jose Sharks.

Edmundson will skate on the Blues’ third defense pairing alongside Vince Dunn.

“I played in I think three Game 7s now so this is going to be my fourth. None of them compare to this one,” said Edmundson. “Obviously it’s going to be the biggest game of my life. But everyone’s excited.”

Edmundson said his first reaction upon finding out that he would be in the lineup was to text his parents, who were already planning on attending the game. One member of his family not attending the game? His brother, Jesse, who has apparently been bad luck throughout the series.

“They were coming,” said Edmundson when talking about his parent’s plans. “My brother (Jesse) stayed back because he thinks he’s bad luck. He’s been bad luck throughout the series, so he stayed back, he’s taking one for the team.”

Whatever it takes.

More Blues-Bruins Game 7
• Blues vs. Bruins: Three keys for Game 7
• The Wraparound: It is all on line for Blues-Bruins 
• Which Blues, Bruins player will get Stanley Cup handoff?
• Conn Smythe watch
• Stanley Cup roundtable discussion

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.

Chara, Dunn join jaw-dropping club of playing through pain

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BOSTON (AP) — Barry Melrose strapped on a fiberglass contraption that made him look like Hannibal Lecter. Rick Tocchet figured he looked more like Darth Vader.

Zdeno Chara resembled Batman villain Bane with his full face shield when he played Thursday night, 48 hours after the Boston captain took a puck square to the face. The same thing happened to Vince Dunn and he has so many wires in his mouth during the Stanley Cup Final that the St. Louis defenseman would probably set off a metal detector.

Playing through a severe injury is something of a hockey tradition, but the jawbreakers’ club is a smaller group. Four decades after Melrose did it, 27 years since Tocchet and 20 years since Jeremy Roenick gritted their teeth through broken jaws in playoff hockey, Chara and Dunn offer a fresh reminder of how much players will sacrifice for a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.

”Pain is temporary and pride is forever,” Roenick said. ”They’ll remember you for what you did. The pain is going to go away, and you’re going to forget that you even had that pain.”

Chara is still unable to talk much after taking the puck off the stick of the Blues’ Brayden Schenn on Monday night. Through the Bruins, Chara said he didn’t think about making it worse or consider himself any different from teammates with other injuries. He played 16:42 in Boston’s Game 5 loss that left the Bruins a game from elimination in the final.

Tocchet empathizes with Chara after an errant shot by Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux in 1992 cracked him in the jaw. He decided to keep playing rather than sit out the projected six weeks.

”I knew the ramifications, but I knew the reward if I could get through this thing,” Tocchet said. ”Obviously we won the Cup, so it was a great move by me.”

Had the ’92 Penguins not won? Tocchet simply said: ”No regrets.”

Dunn missed almost three weeks after taking a puck to the mouth from San Jose’s Brenden Dillon in the Western Conference final and dealing with concussion symptoms.

After coming back in Game 4 – the same game Chara went down – Dunn feels like he has a mouth guard in at all times and hasn’t been able to eat much solid food. Keeping weight on and digesting enough nutrients is something the jawbreakers’ club knows all about.

Tocchet’s mom came down to Pittsburgh after he broke his jaw and made all his meals in a blender.

”The first two weeks, 10 days, it was hard to chew,” Tocchet said. ”You couldn’t really move your jaw.”

Dunn felt like that. Asked recently if Dunn was talking any better, captain Alex Pietrangelo flashed a smile and said: ”Yeah. His teeth are coming in.”

Those teeth aren’t all in the right places, so Dunn’s smile was a little broken but beaming after his return. Even if he keeps getting smacked in the mouth.

”I got a stick in the face second shift again,” Dunn said Monday following Game 4. ”Nothing is going well for my face right now. It’s whatever right now. It’s an amazing time of the year. Things are going to happen that way.”

Things happen, go play hockey. That was Melrose’s approach back in 1979 when he played for Winnipeg two days after breaking his jaw in three places.

”When I got hit, all my teeth were shoved under my tongue and the doctor had to pull the teeth out,” Melrose said, explaining his four-hour tour in a dentist’s chair. ”As long as you can’t hurt it, it can’t hurt you, and you just play with the pain.”

Tocchet missed nine days after the misfire from ”Super Mario.” He came back and even fought Kris King and Kevin Hatcher with his jaw in pieces.

”Scotty Bowman wasn’t too happy with me,” Tocchet said. ”It’s not that I didn’t care. It’s the heat of the moment. You’re just doing it.”

Roenick sat out three weeks in 1999 after a check from Derian Hatcher gave him three ”clean” breaks in his jaw during a playoff game. That was the easy one. Five years later in a regular-season game, a shot from Boris Mironov shattered his jaw in 23 places.

”That is a totally different kind of one to have to come back from,” said Roenick, who’s at the final as an NBC Sports analyst.

The players say one of the toughest parts of playing through a broken jaw is not being able to breathe correctly. Tocchet said it’s more difficult to get back to a regular heart rate and catch your breath after a shift.

”When you’re wired and your teeth are slammed shut, it’s really hard to get air in between your teeth,” Roenick added. ”There’s little breathing ways that you can do when you’re slammed shut – breathing like Popeye breathing, breath inside the back of your mouth and not through the front of it. But to get oxygen, it’s really hard. You find yourself sometimes gasping for as much air as you possibly can.”

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Blues defense benefiting from HOFer Larry Robinson’s experience

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BOSTON — It never helps to have a little experience helping guide you through new situations. For the St. Louis Blues defensemen, none of them had ever played in a Stanley Cup Final before this postseason. So as the team’s blue liners got a taste of the rough and tumble fourth and final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they knew they could rely on one specific person who owns plenty of experience in that situation.

When Craig Berube took over from Mike Yeo in November, Larry Robinson moved from senior consultant to hockey operations to assistant coach.  A nine-time Stanley Cup winner as a player and coach, his addition to Berube’s staff brought plenty of knowledge to the job. 

“To have a guy like that with that experience around, you can’t beat it. He’s an unbelievable man,” said Berube.

It was a position, however, that Robinson only took on until Christmas as he cited the travel being too much for his 68-year-old body. As the season has progressed, especially now in the postseason, the Hall of Famer has been with them through their journey.

A 10-time All-Star, two-time Norris Trophy winner, and Conn Smythe winner, Robinson is a resource for any of the Blues’ defensemen to use for advice. He’s seen it all and any bit of information he can pass on that will assist, he will.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

“He’s been great for me. It’s just another sounding board,” said Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. “When you’ve got nine Stanley Cups you’ve got a lot of information to provide. He’s fun to have around. If you’ve ever had a conversation with him, his demeanor and personality fit great with our group. I know for us, on the back end especially, he’s been fantastic for us.”

Now an eye in the sky during the playoffs, Robinson communicates things he sees from up top between periods. But it’s the defensemen who as a group have benefited most. With five players at least 6-foot-3 and Robinson listed at 6-foot-4, he knows the ins and outs of playing the position as a bigger player.

“It’s an advantage for us when we’re out there,” said 6-foot-4 Colton Parayko on working Robinson to improve his stick work. “It helps us where we can control the forward a little bit, which is important for us.”

Ask any of the defensemen and they’ll tell you that the way Robinson delivers his messages is in a clear manner and that the players aren’t overloaded with too much information. He knows just how to get his point through when he sees something that needs to be addressed.

Vince Dunn is the youngest and shortest defensemen on the Blues at 22 years old and 6-feet tall. This is his first postseason, and it’s been an eventful one. Having Robinson around and his years of experience behind the bench and on the ice has been very beneficial.

“He’s been amazing to have as a mentor,” Dunn said. “He knows there’s a lot going on with coaching and just learning from the other guys, too, who are on the team. He doesn’t try to push you too much but he’s definitely there for someone to talk to. He has a lot of very smart things to say that maybe you don’t really think about and other guys don’t think about because he’s been around for so long.”

Knowing they have such an asset at hand, the Blues players don’t hesitate to reach out to Robinson with any questions, or inquire about a good story from his 20-year NHL career. Robinson will also approach them if he sees something that he’s noticed in their games. 

Every conversation has had a benefit for the defensemen.

“I think more than anything he wants you to feel confident about yourself and put yourself in good areas, just make the game easier on yourself,” said Dunn. “He doesn’t try to teach you how to shoot all over again or skate all over again, it’s little things that you don’t really think about out there. Those things make a huge difference when you’re on the ice.”

Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs Thursday on NBC at 8 p.m. ET (stream here).

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Blues’ Dunn felt ‘great’ in return despite getting stick to injured face

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When Vince Dunn stepped on the ice for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, he did so carrying some extra weight.

Having missed the past six playoff games the St. Louis Blues had played in dating back to the Western Conference Final, Dunn skated onto the ice, not with a heavy heart, but with a heavy mouth, one he described as full of wires.

Dunn was done for the night back in Game 3 against the San Jose Sharks when a puck smacked him straight in the grill. A simple stitch job and a little bleach to clean up the mess weren’t going to cut it for Dunn on this occasion.

Despite a recovery that Dunn described as “going to be a long process” prior to Monday’s game, he suited up. He even elected to forego using a full face shield, unhappy with the vision problems it created.

Being out there, he said following the game, was great. But perhaps he should have found a way to make the face shield work.

“I got a stick in the face second shift again,” Dunn said. “Nothing is going well for my face right now.”

That’s a solid quote.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The feeling of winning is sometimes the best pain-killer.

“It’s whatever right now,” Dunn said. “It’s an amazing time of the year. Things are going to happen that way. Other than [the stick in the face], I felt good.”

Dunn played 20 shifts in the game, nearly 13 minutes of ice time, and added an assist on Ryan O'Reilly‘s first of two on the night.

“I thought he had a great game, I really did,” head coach Craig Berube said. “It didn’t look like he missed a beat to me. Moving his feet well, moving the puck well, just the stuff that he does normally. It was really good to have him back. I mean it’s a tough injury, taking a puck in the face. But he felt good enough to play and went in there and did a great job for us.”

A similar situation could be playing out for Boston Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara, who was on the receiving end of a puck to the chops himself Game 4.

The play dropped Chara to the ice, and although he’d return to the third period with a full face shield, he wouldn’t play any part.

His status for Game 5 is now up in the air.

Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday (stream here).


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck