The Blues were able to squeak out their first Stanley Cup Final win in franchise history by virtue of Carl Gunnarsson overtime winner in Boston. Now, with the series tied, what do the Blues have to do to take control of the series as it shifts to St. Louis for games three and four?
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Ian Glendon: The Blues will have to continue to stay out of the penalty box when they take on the Bruins on home-ice. Fortunately for them, the Bruins top line has been stagnant to start the series but you can’t expect that to continue. The best thing for the Blues is to not give them more opportunities to get on a roll as they are a line that feeds off each other and it could get out of hand quickly. Jordan Binnington has been good but not great, giving up a few weak goals over the course of the first two games. That seems like a bit of a nit-pick but he has to clean that up in order to continue to frustrate the Bruins top offensive players.
Ethan Nash: For the Blues, the main key is to stay physical. Guys like Patrick Maroon and Joel Edmundson have been leading the way for the Blues in that category making things very difficult for the Bruins. If the Blues continue this level of physicality, it will be difficult for the Bruins to match it especially with Matt Grzelcyk being sidelined. The Blues also need to continue to shut down the Bruins’ first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. As previously mentioned, they’ve done a great job of that so far and if they continue to do so, it will make it very difficult for the Bruins to constantly rely on their second, third and fourth lines for scoring.
Chris Bugajsky: The Blues find themselves in a tied series with the next two games coming on home ice. Throughout the course of the playoffs, the Blues have been striking early and often. That will be the key for them in game three. They need to take advantage of having the game at home and get the fans involved early in the game by making the stadium as loud as possible. Getting an early lead will do just that.
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Geoff Burnside: Five months ago almost to the day, the St. Louis Blues were dead last in the standings and looking like the heavy favorites to draft Jack Hughes this summer. Apparently, nobody decided to tell Jordan Binnington. After winning his first NHL start on January 7th, Binnington continued on an incredibly impressive streak of 12-1-1 with a 1.42 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. Binnington’s record-setting performance sparked something in St. Louis, and the Blues finished the season fifth in the Western Conference, securing a trip to the postseason after being all but locked in as draft lottery contenders.
After single-handedly keeping the Blues competitive in game one, it appeared as though Binnington’s luck ran out early in game two. The Bruins scored two weak five-hole goals on five shots to start game two at home, something that easily could have shaken the rookie Binnington’s confidence and sent the game off the rails for the Blues. Instead, Binnington responded by stopping each of the next 18 shots he faced, and the Blues held the Bruins to under ten shots in every period before keeping them completely in the defensive end to finish the game in overtime. If Binnington can remain focused in front of a home crowd that has waited nearly 50 years to see a Stanley Cup Final game again, the Blues should be able to ride their momentum from a strong game two into a dominate series lead at home.
Chris Mancuso: The key to success for game three for the Blues is they have to control their emotions. This is a team who already has looked like they have been lacking some discipline. At the start of game three, there is no doubt the house is going to be rocking, the fans are going to be going crazy and the last thing St Louis can afford to do is step across the line. They need to manage their emotions and play the same in-your-face hard-hitting style that leads them to success in game two. If they get caught up in the moment this Bruins team and power play could make St Louis pay.
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