Stanley Cup Final: Preview and Predictions

As for this year’s matchup, it should be a good one. Two teams who play a heavy game, can score goals at the drop of a hat, but also play strong defensively and feature top notch goaltending.

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We started with 16 teams on the quest for the greatest trophy in sports and through blood, sweat, and tears, we’re down to 2. In the Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins made quick work of the Carolina Hurricanes, cracking out the brooms and completing the sweep. In the West, to the dismay of Hawks fans everywhere, the St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 49 years.

The Boston Bruins will be making an astounding 20th trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They have hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup 6 times in franchise history. Their last victory came in 2011 (which is decades ago for Boston fans) when Tim Thomas led Boston past the Vancouver Canucks. Boston’s last appearance in the Cup Final was in 2013, and, well…

As for that team from St. Louis, their history isn’t as bright as Boston’s. The Blues are making their first appearance at the big dance since 1970. St. Louis has been to the Cup Final three times in team history. The appearances came back-to-back-to-back from 1968-1970. The Blues lost all three series and didn’t win a single game in any of the series. Their last appearance in 1970 was against no other than the Boston Bruins. That series ended with the most famous photo in NHL history.

As for this year’s matchup, it should be a good one. Two teams who play a heavy game, can score goals at the drop of a hat, but also play strong defensively and feature top-notch goaltending. Yeah, these two teams do almost everything well. That is why they are here after all. Patrick Comiskey, Ron Luce, Tony Marchese, and Jonnie Nonnie are back one last time to break down the final series of the season. Let’s check back at how we’ve performed leading into this.

Comiskey: (8-6)

Luce: (5-9)

Marchese: (8-6)

Nonnie: (5-9)

These playoffs have been crazy. Both one-seeds lost in the first round. Every wild card team advanced past the first round. Up was down and down was up. Let’s hope for more and more madness as the Blues and Bruins face-off this coming week. Here’s the schedule… don’t miss a second of the action.

Boston Bruins vs St Louis Blues

Preview: The matchup that it appears no Hawks fan wanted to see. The hated St. Louis Blues will go toe-to-toe with the luckiest sports town in the world’s hockey team, the Boston Bruins. Each team had an impressive path to the Stanley Cup Final. In the East, the Bruins featured a tough challenge right off the bat with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs held a 3-2 series lead. Boston came back and won and then knocked off new coming juggernauts in the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes. St. Louis, after being in last place in the NHL on January 2nd, is possibly the hottest team in NHL history. The Blues seems like they haven’t even really been challenged yet. They knocked off the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, and San Jose Sharks on their path the Final. The goaltender matchup is an intriguing one. Both Boston’s Tuukka Rask and St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington have been stellar in these playoffs. Rask has the experience in his favor, but Binnington seems unfazed by anything thrown his way. Boston has been a juggernaut themselves in these playoffs. They have the best powerplay, scoring an astounding 34% of the time they are on the advantage. They have allowed the fewest goals per game of any playoff team and also sit at second for goals scored. St. Louis doesn’t hold those fancy statistics like Boston does, but they seemingly just continue to find ways to win. The Blues will look to keep the game 5-on-5, as the special teams performances for the two teams has been night and day. St. Louis has struggled on both their power play and penalty kill, while Boston has flourished in both categories. Boston should look to stay out of the box as well, because any time a powerplay features the shot of Vladimir Tarasenko, it is always dangerous. This series should be one for the ages.

Goaltender Matchup: Tuukka Rask (12-5) GAA: 1.84 SV%: .942 vs Jordan Binnington (12-7) GAA: 2.36 SV%: .914

Playoff Leading Scorers: BOS: Brad Marchand (18 Points) STL: Jaden Schwartz (16 Points)

Regular Season Series: Tied 1-1

Predictions:

Comiskey: Bruins in 6.

At the start of the playoffs, we had our Stanley Cup Final prediction. Not to brag, but totally brag, I gave you Boston over St. Louis in six games. So I am going to stick with that prediction. I am a little nervous that St. Louis is going to pull this one out, but I do believe Boston is the better team. They do everything well and Tuukka Rask is having a playoffs for the ages. Schedule yet another parade for downtown Boston. Is it even that fun for Bostonians anymore?

Luce: Blues in 7.

I’m going to go against the grain of my running-mates here. Yes, the Blues are huge rivals to the Blackhawks. Yes, Boston is the city that doesn’t appreciate winning anymore because they’re more spoiled than a sweets lover in a free candy shop. However, I still see the Blues pulling this one out, as they have throughout their entire run to the playoffs. Jordan Binnington has consistently found a way to win. The depth of St. Louis is the best matchup the Bruins have had this entire postseason. I am comfortable saying the Blues will knock off the hated Bruins in seven games. I said it to numerous friends since the beginning of the playoffs… “I think the Blues can win this whole thing”… we’ll see if my intuitions are correct.

Marchese: Bruins in 7.

I said it on Four Feathers and I’ll say it again, this series is going to be made extremely painful for a Blackhawks fan to watch. I predict the Blues forcing a game 7 in Boston. Boston will win game 7 hand-idly and lift the cup. It’s the lesser of two evils.

Nonnie: Bruins in 6.

Anti-St. Louis bias aside, the Bruins are the slightly better team in this matchup. As I had mentioned on the latest episode of Four Feathers, the entire Bruins lineup plays with a certain edge that I haven’t seen anywhere else around the league. Every single player on the roster, even a goal-scorer like David Pastrnak, isn’t afraid to throw the body around and take away space from opponents. They also score opportunistic goals, as they are the top-ranked power play unit in the playoffs. Both teams feature excellent goaltending; the rookie phenom Jordan Binnington backstops the Blues while Tuukka Rask continues to be one of the top net-minders in the league for Boston. I think it will be a rough and tumble affair with each game being a close contest, but I like Boston’s clutch gene to prevail in six games.

Well, the finish line is in sight. Gary Bettman will once again be handing the Stanley Cup off to one team captain in the next two weeks. Will it be Zdeno Chara or Alex Pietrangelo on the receiving end? Tune in to two of the best in the business, Doc and Edzo, to find out. Enjoy the last few games of the greatest sport on Earth; October is a long ways away after all.


Featured Photo: CBS Boston

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