The Stanley Cup finals begin on Monday in Boston. Our NHL authors take a scalpel to the matchup, predicting what bizarre NHL rules might haunt the finals, and think about Brad Marchand, "Gloria" and Press Feed. Plus, our series predictions!
Who will win the Stanley Cup?
Greg Wyshynski, Senior NHL Author: Before we destroy the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues, we first bow three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 201
Emily Kaplan, National NHL Reporter: Sixteen overtime games, five game-seven, three overtime games and two double overtime games? Insane. The first two weeks felt like one of the craziest hockey games I've ever experienced. Despite the early craziness – including eight serial problems – things returned to normal in the end. Two of the most complete teams are in the final. In the last two months of the regular season, the blues (plus-30 goal difference in this range) and Bruins (plus-29) were two of the hottest teams, taking second and fourth place respectively. And note that the Carolina Hurricanes, the other finalists in the Eastern Conference, came third. These teams deserve to be here, and there's a reason why everyone says we're heading for a slugfest. Let's take a closer look. Greg, what do you expect from this series?
Wyshynski: Sharks coach Peter DeBoer recently said that "the two toughest and heaviest teams will stand in the final," which resulted in some Snickers, given the existence of Torey Krug and Jaden Schwartz in the series. But I understand: These are teams that are usually the best when they play hard on the puck and are like a battering ram in the offensive zone. These are two teams that are willing to make their will through their preliminary decision and are happy to play with the lead (they have a combined 13: 2 lead if they lead after the first leg). The Bruins have demonstrated the ability to dismiss teams. They scored 51.04 percent of 5-on-5 attempts when passing a goal. The blues are just starting to figure this out – a tough training after the notorious hand-over loss in Game 3 against San Jose. That's the stylistic attitude. Emily, let's start by taking a scalpel for this matchup, starting with the goalies.
Kaplan: As good as Jordan Binnington was, Tuukka Rask was better and more consistent. Keeping a percentage of 0.942 for all situations is difficult. Most people expect a slight regression. But I've been reporting on the Bruins all spring, and here's the statistics I can not get over: In games where Boston can win a series, Rask went 3-0 and held 95 of 96 shots ( a .990 save) percentage). He was freezing when it mattered. OK, now Binnington. He had some tougher games this spring (including making six hits for the Jets in Game 3 of the first round), but overall he has impressed for his imperturbability. Even when you saw him lose his composure at the end of the hand-over game, he recovered spectacularly (he stopped 75 of 77 in the next three games and went 3-0). You'll hear great storylines ad nauseum: Rask's Redemption Tour (after all, he's a great goalie!), Binnington's stint on Bruins' farm teams, and Binnington's upcoming contract negotiations. He has a limited freelance agency and will be paid this summer. But in this series, the edge has to go to Rask.
Wyshynski: I would also give Rask the edge, but I think Binnington was outstanding when they needed him – the third period (in which the Blues gave up 13 goals in 19 games) and after defeats. I also think that Rask has the edge in front of him. Timeless Man / Mountain Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy are the only pairing that are slightly in the red in the 5-on-5 win, but McAvoy heads the Bruins' defenders 68.42 goals in a percentage. Brandon Carlo learned under Chara before becoming Torey Krug's partner. This shows that he is an ideal counterpart to Krug's offense. Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton were an effective third option. For the blues, Colton Parayko impressed me at both ends of the rink in the last two laps and did what he could while he was in possession of Jay Bouwmeester (but hey, he's old and needs a cup!). Parayko was better than the more vaunted Alex Pietrangelo who, at best, was inconsistent while playing with Joel Edmundson. If Vince Dunn is healthy, that's a blessing for the blue line. You can find out if Carl Gunnarsson or Robert Bortuzzo should round off the group.
Chaplain: I consider Dunn's health a huge X-factor. The blues could do the sharks without him, but St. Louis was not yet facing a fully functional Sharks roster. Dunn is underrated and impresses me every time I've seen the blues this season. At the front, both teams have some talents of superstar caliber, and we'll be able to see two of the best two-way strikers in the game: Ryan O & # 39; Reilly and Patrice Bergeron. The blues often go like Vladimir Tarasenko and the Russian winger gets better and better the longer the playoffs last. After scoring only two points (both goals) in the first round and three points (including goals) in the second round, he sizzled in six games against San Jose with eight points (three goals, five assists). But Boston's top line is superior to St. Louis if you click – and they certainly clicked as the playoffs went on. I see that Boston is among the top six. But when it comes to depth, St. Louis has an advantage, thanks to his fourth line from Oskar Sundqvist, Alexander Steen and Ivan Barbashev, a trio that was a joy.
Wyshynski: I was really impressed By the way, the depth of the Bruins came forward in the last two rounds. That could even make up for things as much as possible. A line to keep an eye on: Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon and Robert Thomas, the latter skipping skates for injury. They were great against Dallas, beating San Jose and playing the offensive game needed to get to Rask. Beyond the 5-on-5 game, the series could compete in special teams. The power play of the Bruins clicks at 34.0 percent. For teams with at least 15 postseason games, the Bruins power play is the second highest in the last 40 playoff years after the 1980-81 New York Islanders (37.8 percent). Boston's powerplay on the road is 41.7 percent, which is unbelievable. The Blues are at 19.4 percent, warming up against the Sharks at 5 to 21 (23.8 percent). That's nice, but not "second best in the last 40 years" nice. The Bruins also have the advantage of special teams on penalties with 86.3 percent, while the blues are with 78.0 percent. Boston has the advantage of a special team, but a note to St. Louis: The blues were undercut only 41 times in 19 games. Stay that way. Emily, what about those ice creams? Is there a cosmic team of immaterial fates?
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Kaplan: Let's not avoid that. If you are not from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island or parts of Connecticut – or have any connection with any of the players – what on earth are you doing to roll the Bruins? A victory in Boston would mean 13 championships for the city in 18 years. Sure, it's cool to experience dominance, and the Bruins have not won since 2011. There are also some cool stories on their list. David Backes, after spending his first 10 out of 13 NHL years in St. Louis, gets his best shot in a cup with Boston. The 42-year-old Zdeno Chara is already a legend, but the captain could stand in the middle of a youth-obsessed league for the elders.
But in what context is the team deserving? Just as the hockey gods rewarded Alex Ovechkin and the capitals last June, it's time for St. Louis to have a moment. The journey of the blues is incredible. Three Stanley Cup finals in the first three years – and nothing more since then. Sure, they were good – playoffs in 42 of 51 seasons, which is why we often talk about insidious droughts in championships in the discourse – but they have never been great and now is their chance. There are also many nuggets to influence the casual fan. One team, all declared dead in January, made a historically impressive turn. The hometown boy (Patrick Maroon), who needed less money to return home and meet his son. The inexperienced goalkeeper, who apparently came from nowhere. The Russian superstar (Vladimir Tarasenko), who came to the city with a bit of English, but became part of the community and adopted son. Ryan O Reilly discovers a purpose again. The super fan, Laila Anderson, who inspired the locker room. The hymn singer who finishes a final run before he retires for multiple sclerosis. This is a lot of positive juju effects that have a positive effect on the favor of the blues.
Wyshynski: Okay, I think it's time to complete this with a quick run.
Will Brad Marchand be suspended in the final?
Wyshynski: No. After beating a guy in the back of my head and hooking Justin Williams on the back of his neck, I think the extra discipline bar is set to "One-Game Block for Manslaughter".
Kaplan: Marchand spent the whole season so far without discipline, and I think he kept this series intact. I'm sure he'll do something to irritate the blues – and St. Louis should be disciplined enough not to pull away. Marchand will receive a maximum of one call from his friends in the Player Safety Department, but it will be at most a fine.
What really bizarre controversy over NHL rules will haunt the finale?
Wyshynski: A game-winning overtime goal is not allowed because it was scored with a broken bat The player receives a small penalty instead, and the opposing team scores points in the ensuing power play. If I've predicted correctly, you'll all have to fall to one knee and accept me as your new king.
Kaplan: Give me punches before the team scores a goal, the referees do not notice. and therefore they can not check. This was against the Bruins before those playoffs (with much less fanfare than the hand-over debacle, since it was a less important situation), and there were some poems when it reappeared when the stakes were higher.
Will TD Garden Troll of the Blues play "Gloria" after a win?
Wyshynski: No, but I'm afraid the blues have something to do with Boston and Jon Hamm's scenes from "The Town".
Chaplain: No. They focus too much on their favorite playoff anthem "Old Town Road." (Hey, did you hear that Lil Nas X is performing in the final and is planning to wear a Bruins sweater?)
Who will have the better press service?
Wyshynski: I Can Report That Blues begins with a selection of sweets, including Jolly Ranchers and York Peppermint Patties, before revealing two large cauldrons of roasted ravioli and other fried goods after the first period. So, um, your move, Boston.
Kaplan: Boston's selection of sweets and desserts is quite impressive and includes Reese's Pieces, a big positive in my book. During the playoffs last year, a maniac has thinned the glass with the Reese's Pieces with M & M's. This has not happened this spring, and I really hope I did not hex it here.
So, who will win the Stanley Cup?
Wyshynski: Blues in six . There's a lot to do for both cosmic and logical, and if there's a team that can overcome a lack of home ice benefits and find a way to get around Rask just enough, it's the blues. Kaplan: Bruins in seven . The hot top line, the historically good power play and Rask (I can not imagine a steep decline in his previous playoff dominance again) have brought Boston over the edge.