Since the puck dropped on October 3rd, we have seen 1,271 regular season games and 86 playoff games. Now, after eight and a half months, it all comes down to one final clash between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues to decide who will hoist the Stanley Cup.
— Full Press NHL (@FPC_NHL) June 10, 2019
Game Seven Favors the Home Team
This will be the 17th game seven in Stanley Cup Final history and the first since 2011. That series saw the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks after overcoming a 3-2 series deficit. Sound familiar? Home teams in the previous 16 games have a record of 12-4. However, the road teams have won the last two (2011, 2009). This will be the Bruins second Stanley Cup Final series that goes seven and this first in Boston. And, of course, this will be the Blues first game seven in the Finals in franchise history.
Scoring First Has a Similiar Advantage
Just like playing at home has been a distinct advantage, scoring first is almost just as important. In the previous 16 game sevens, the team that scores first has an 11-5 record. On top of that, in any game seven in any round, the team that scores first has a .740 winning percentage. Now, scoring first didn’t mean much for the Blues and Bruins in games one and two, however, it has meant quite a bit in the last four games.
Can St. Louis Rebound After Game Six Loss?
This will be the Blues second crack at closing out the series after failing to do so in St. Louis in game six. Entering that game, the city, fans, and even some newspapers were anticipating a celebration of a lifetime. However, that was not to be as the Bruins rolled to a 5-1 victory. Can the Blues, with relatively minimal finals experience compared to their counterpart, put that behind them and win on the road? It’s a tall order for a team that is coming into hostile territory in Boston. Despite being a very strong road team.
The best player for the Blues tomorrow night has to be Jordan Binnington. Outside of a stellar game five performance, Binnington has been pedestrian in these finals. Especially in the games that they have lost. On the other end, the Blues know they are going to see the very best of Tuukka Rask, so Binnington has to match that, if not exceed his play if the Blues are going to win.
Can the Bruins Top Line Continue to Produce?
In 2011, it was Brad Marchand who set up Patrice Bergeron for the first goal of thee game. Bergeron would add another late in the game, however, the first was all they needed as they shut out the Canucks to win their first Cup since 1972. Eight years later and those two players are just as crucial to the Bruins success. Especially if they hope to win another game seven.
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Heading into game six, the top line had been relatively quiet for the Bruins. In game six, they had their fingerprints all over the win, including the first goal of the game from Bergeron. Marchand added a goal as well and when Marchand scores, they usually win. In fact, the Bruins are 25-1 in games in which Marchand has scored a goal. Needless to say, if the Bruins top line produces at a similar rate in game seven, you can start planning for another parade in Boston.
Tuukka Rask’s Legacy
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, winning this series isn’t necessary to solidify Tuukka Rask’s standing as a big game goalie. He has done that already, despite what some within the media (and some fans) have thought coming into this playoff season. However, winning this series could go a long way in building the case for the Hall of Fame. As it stands, Rask has a career save percentage of .921 which would place him fourth all-time behind Dominik Hasek, Johnny Bower, and Ken Dryden.
What do all three of those goalies have in common? They are all Hockey Hall of Famers. They also happen to be Stanley Cup Champions as well. And yes, Rask IS a champion but as a backup to Tim Thomas. If he wins game seven, it’ll be his second and first as a starter. You can also chalk up a Conn Smythe win as well seeing as he will be the obvious and appropriate choice if the Bruins pull it off. He will need to likely improve on his 266 career wins in the regular season but given his age and the team in front of him, it’s feasible he could break the 350 career wins mark.
Which Veteran Will Finally Hoist the Cup for the First Time?
A number of players on both teams have a chance to win their first Stanley Cup. Of course, the nucleus of the Bruins have all won one and been to another. However, a guy like David Backes, a veteran of 928 regular season games, has waited 10 years to have this opportunity. On the other bench, Jay Bouwmeester has played 1,184 games without a Cup. Or, in other words, he is only behind Patrick Marleau of the Leafs and Joe Thornton of the Sharks on the list of games played by active players that haven’t won a Cup. In addition, Alexander Steen is not far behind with 963 games played. One, or two, of these players will have a chance to get that monkey off their back.