What do the St. Louis Blues do now?

After winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the St. Louis Blues have some choices to make.

General Manager Doug Armstrong has $15,470,406 in cap space to work with and some players he has to resign. Doug Armstrong has already made a couple moves this off-season by signing Carl Gunnarsson to a two year contract and officially taking the interim tag off Craig Berube. It is easy for a GM to just the band back together but that doesn’t always work. After having an eventful summer in 2018 things seem like they will be a tad quieter in 2019.

The Jake Allen Question

Blues Twitter made it two weeks after winning the Cup to start complaining or praising Jake Allen again. The 28 year old is on the books for two more seasons at a cap hit of 4,350,000. Going into the 2019-2020 season he is going to be the clear back-up to Jordan Binnington. That is a lot of money to give to a back up goalie, but ponder this Blues fans, Binnington is beloved in St. Louis and can do no wrong. However, he is not a proven starter. He had a great run for the Blues and seems to have all the ability but we just don’t know. If you tell yourself you do know you are lying to yourself. If Binnington needs to prove he can be an legit number one guy, like a Braden Holtby or whoever comes to mind when thinking of a starter. The Blues have never had a guy, that every season, the fans know they are going to be solid in net for 10 years and are hoping Binnington is that person. If he is, Allen is expendable but if not, even if he is expensive Allen can be a very good back-up goalie and has been in his career at points. Also if not Jake Allen, then who? Keith Kinkaid? Curtis McElhinney? Both of those guys are options for the Blues if they decide to move on from Allen, but it is up to Armstrong to make sure he gets actual assets and isn’t trading Jake just to trade him.

Restricted Free Agents

The Blues have a lot of restricted free agents to lock up, but, unlike a lot of teams, they don’t have any superstar talents to lockup. At forward, the Blues need to give new contracts to Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri, Zach Sanford, Oskar Sundqvist and Sammy Blais. All of these guys are solid pieces, and all played their part in winning a Stanley Cup, but none of them should break the bank. All can be locked up for a couple years at a relatively cheap rate and produce whe given the ice time. Sundqvist and Barbashev will be the most expensive of the group as guys who can play center and score but by no means will they cap the Blues out. On defense the only RFA is Joel Edmundson who had a bit of a down season and after signing a three million dollar contract last offseason may see a bit of a dip this year. The most important restricted free agent is goalie Jordan Binnington. He is going to receive quite the raise from the $650,000 he was making last year and the comparable is Matt Murray who has a cap hit of $3,750,000. Will he take that? No idea maybe the Blues feel he should make more than Jake Allen but whatever happens Binnington will be the most expensive RFA to sign.

Unrestricted Free Agents

After resigning Carl Gunnarsson, the Blues have one UFA of note in Patrick Maroon. Not trying to insult Michael Del Zotto and Chris Thorburn, but neither are making an impact on the Blues roster next season. Maroon apparently has been gaining interest from teams like the Calgary Flames, who saw how productive Maroon was in the first few rounds of the playoffs and want some of that action. For the Blues, it is going to be important that Doug Armstrong does not overpay Maroon, no matter how easy it would be. The man proclaimed himself a “hometown hero baby” at the parade after scoring one of the biggest goals in Blues history, with his double OT winner against the Stars in game seven, but just look at the facts. He had 28 points in the regular season, even though he got a ton of power play time. In the playoffs, he was on a productive line with Tyler Bozak and Robert Thomas, but that line slowed down as the playoffs went along, and especially in the finals, when Thomas went down with injury. The Blues are loaded at forward and do not need to overpay anyone. If he wants to take another discount and stay, awesome. He will always be loved here.

(P.S. as someone who went to the same high school as Patty, that was tough to write.)

Trades/Free Agents

The Blues don’t appear to be talking to any of the upper tier, or even middle tier free agents. So, maybe a depth signing here or there, but nothing that will change the outlook of the team. Besides Jake Allen there may be a trade or two on the roster. Brayden Schenn has one year left on his deal and may command a lot of money next off-season. The Blues prospect cupboard at forward looks pretty good, so there may not be a need to keep Schenn maybe there is a trade there. However I doubt it happens and Schenn will simply just walk next off season.  Alex Steen is making quite a bit of money as a 35 year old depth piece, but he has a no trade and looks like he has found a role on the fourth line. Trading Steen will be difficult as he has a full no move clause and no teams are clamoring to take on that money. The Maple Leafs were reportedly talking to the Blues about Robby Fabbri maybe something is to be done there. Fabbri is a rather unfortunate case as with all the injuries he has suffered we may never see the fire cracker of a player he was in 2015-2016 season especially in the playoffs. Alex Pietrangelo also one year left on his deal and believe it or not some Blues fans are saying to trade him. Legitimate number one right-handed defense-men don’t grow on trees and no way the Blues will trade their captain and no way will he be able to walk in free agency.

The Young Guys

The improvement will come from their young guys taking another step. Robert Thomas had a nice rookie season, but looks like he could be a star and step in as a top line center down the line. Prospect Jordan Kyrou has proven all he needs to prove at the minor league levels, and it is time for him to prove he can be a legit NHL player and be the elite scorer he was in the AHL and OHL. Klim Kostin, Dominik Bokk and Alexei Toropchenko are all promising prospects, but may be a couple years away. Erik Foley had his year at Providence derailed by injury, but he was a part of the Paul Stastny trade and is another promising piece for the future. Oskar Sundqvist is an example of being patient with a player as he went from AHL depth piece to being a surprise star for the Blues playing all over the lineup and really contributing to that four line punch the Blues brought. If he can take another step and become a 40 point player, this team gets that much better. Vince Dunn is the guy on defense the Blues are looking at to make a leap and be a top four guy. He has wonderful offensive skills but needs to work on his play in his own end.  Although the Blues seem to have their defense set, but injuries happen and guys like Mitch Reinke Nikko Mikkola and Jake Walman will get looks at the NHL level. It may be better for the Blues to keep Allen and let Ville Husso rebound after last season.

Final Piece

Overall it appears the Blues are in a good position moving forward. The veterans are complemented by a lot of young talent and the scouting staff in St. Louis always seems to be able to find good players in the later parts of the draft. The core isn’t old with players like Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly well within their prime and have a lot of good years left. They have their coach in Craig Berube and appear well and ready to make another run at a cup next season despite what will probably be a quiet summer.

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum

 

Is Pettersson A Lock For The Calder? Who Else Could Win?

One of the most perplexing aspects of every NHL season is rookies, more specifically the race for the Calder Trophy. And, this season is no different, with a variety of strong candidates making convincing arguments for the title of best rookie.

Goalies

Jordan Binnington-G St. Louis Blues

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Binnington, a third round pick  of the Blues (88th overall) in 2011, shone bright for St. Louis as an unexpected late-bloomer. The 25 year-old net-minder posted 24 wins, 5 shutouts, a .927 SV% and a 1.89 GAA in 32 games this season. Binnington’s great performance is widely acknowledged to have saved to Blues season.

Although Binnington is quite good, I wouldn’t necessarily hand him the Calder, mainly due to his importance to the Blues, which means a Hart trophy may be more appropriate.

Carter Hart-G Philadelphia Flyers

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Hart entered the season as one of the best prospects in hockey, and finished as an established NHL goaltender. After struggling in the AHL to start the year, a desperate call up turned Hart into the Flyers best goalie. In 31 games with the Flyers, the 20 year-old posted 16 wins, a .917 SV% and a 2.83 GAA. Although these totals are far less impressive than Binnington’s, Hart is 5 years younger, and was playing his first season of professional hockey.

Personally, I wouldn’t give Hart the Calder either, but he deserves massive credit for his performance this season.

MacKenzie Blackwood-G New Jersey Devils

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In a season of few upsides for the New Jersey Devils, fans can take solace in Mackenzie Blackwood’s performance. Far-and-away the best statistical net-minder to suit up for the Devils this season, Blackwood posted a .918 SV% and a 2.61 GAA in 23 games played, 10 of which were wins.

Although Blackwood impressed, and should get Devils fans excited for the near-future in goal, he couldn’t stop the bleeding in New Jersey that Hart and Binnington could in Philadelphia and St. Louis respectively. Thus, Blackwood isn’t exactly a contender for the Calder.

Defenders

Rasmus Dahlin-D Buffalo Sabres

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2018’s 1st overall pick did not disappoint in his debut season. Totaling 44 points in 82 games, Dahlin filled a big hole on Buffalo’s back-end and played an unexpectedly large role on an up-and-coming Sabres squad.

In those 82 games, Dahlin registered a 52.7 CF%, a 98.5 PDO rating and 14 GC (goals created), all while starting 58.9% of his shifts in the offensive zone.

Dahlin certainly has a chance to win the Calder, as he is easily the best rookie defender in the league, but other candidates make a better impression.

Miro Heiskanen-D Dallas Stars

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Heiskanen, drafted 3rd overall in 2017, dazzled fans with his silky smooth skating and offensive prowess. The Finnish defender scored 12 goals and 33 points in 82 games with the stars this season. Heiskanen averaged a 50.9 CF %, a 97.8 PDO rating and recorded 12 GC, all while playing 23:07 ATOI.

These stats are very impressive for Heiskanen, and earned him an all-star appearance. Despite this, I wouldn’t necessarily give him the Calder either, as he was outperformed by other candidates.

Forwards

Elias Pettersson-F Vancouver Canucks

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Easily the most the most talked about rookie this season, Pettersson dominated in almost every game he played. The Swedish sensation potted 28 goals and 66 points, 44 of which were 5v5, in 71 games for the Canucks this season, but his impact goes far deeper than production. Registering a 51.4 CF%, a 100.0 PDO rating while starting an astonishing 70.5% of his shifts in the offensive zone. also, not to be forgotten, Pettersson was responsible for the creation of 26 goals (GC) while averaging 18:14 ATOI.

It is very hard to argue against Pettersson for the Calder, although there are other worthy candidates.

Andreas Johnsson-F Toronto Maple Leafs

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Johnsson, a 24 year-old Swede, was selected in the 7th round by the Leafs in 2013. A star in the SHL, Johnsson had to work through lots of adversity to reach the NHL level, battling through asthma just to make the Marlies.

This season, he scored 20 goals and 43 points in 73 games with the Leafs this season. Johnsson recorded a 54.1 CF% and a 102.8 PDO rating. It’s safe to say that Johnsson over-performed a bit, but that doesn’t make his rookie season any less special. Johnsson has incredible worth to the Leafs, as he really clicked every where he played, especially with number one centre Auston Matthews.

Although Johnsson was really good for the Leafs, he isn’t exactly on the level of Pettersson, or Dahlin as a matter of fact.

My Pick For The Calder

It seems like a no-brainer at this point, but Elias Pettersson is my pick for the 2019 Calder trophy. His electrifying play and influence really stood out among rookies this season, and thus he is deserving of the Calder.

Statistics retrieved from hockey-reference.com, nhl.com, and quanthocky.com

 

 

 

 

Controversy Surrounds Game Five Win For the St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues pulled off a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night in Boston.

The win puts the Blues within one win of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup and they will have a chance to do it in St. Louis on Sunday with a win.

I know what you all want me to discuss and trust me we will get to that, but first let’s recap the first two periods.

First Period

TD Garden was rocking. When Zdeno Chara was announced in the starting lineup, the roof almost came off the place and it was going to be a raucous environment. Boston came out strong. They poured the pressure on Jordan Binnington and the Blues, they noted on the broadcast that the Bruins weren’t centering many passes, and their seemed to be a reason for that. Binnington has struggled with rebounds all series and the Bruins were trying to go for that and put one in that way. Binnington, though, played maybe his best period in the playoffs and kept the Bruins off the scoreboard. On the other side once they survived the first ten minutes or so the Blues started getting their chances, but Tuukka Rask was on his game early Both teams got a power play in the first and neither team could convert, Rask made a wonderful save on David Perron (more on him later) on the Blues power play and the first ended scoreless, which had to feel like a win for the Blues with how the game started and how crazy the building was.

Second Period

Like they have done so often this playoffs, the Blues struck early in the period, Zach Sanford made a  beautifully pass from behind the net  to Ryan O’Reilly who was able to stick it to the back of the net and give the Blues lead. Sanford was put into the lineup by Blues coach Craig Berube when Oskar Sundqvist was suspended for game three and has rewarded Berube’s decision with an assist in every game so far. The rest of the period was pretty ugly with only 14 shots coming out it in total. The Bruins got another chance on the power play after David Perron took a penalty but again was unable to do anything with it. So now we can get to the fun stuff as the game was 1-0 heading into the third in favor of St. Louis

Third Period

The beginning of the third started innocently enough and a few minutes in the Bruins went on their third power play of the game as Alex Steen went off for interference. For the third time the Bruins were stymied by Binnington and after dominating the first three games the Bruins power play has gone quiet in games four and five. So more time goes by and the Blues score when David Perron skates around the Bruins defense and is able to beat Rask making it 2-0.

The Trip

You guys want to talk about anything else? X-Men? Godzilla? Maybe discuss Game of Thrones Season Eight? No….ok. So on the David Perron goal Noel Acciari had the puck and was tripped by Tyler Bozak. There is no other way to put it he got tripped, the ref was staring right at the play Bozak looked up assuming a penalty had been called and things seemed to stop. David Perron, however, did not stop and redeemed himself in Blues fans eyes with that goal. Three things can be true on this play, for one like I stated above it was a trip, Bozak tripped Acciari. No one can rightfully dispute that. I saw some Blues fans and others say it might have been embellishment, I don’t see it, Acciari fell stayed down on the ice and had to be put into concussion protocol. Two, the Bruins stopped playing defense. Perron is a nice player but the Bruins allowed him to get where he wanted to be way too easily because they stopped playing. Three, and the one that might make me go into witness protection, that’s a save Rask has to make. The situation may change the viewpoint but take the trip out of your mind (I know it’s hard) if you isolate just Perron and Rask, that’s a save that needed to be made and Rask didn’t make it, which considering how amazing he has been all playoffs is a massive surprise.

NHL Refs

No matter what team you root you have to agree something needs to be done about how NHL refereeing is conducted.  Hockey is so fast that no ref is going to see everything and things will be missed, that is human nature, and as frustrating as that can be I think NHL fans are smart enough to understand that in the grand scheme of things. However, when officials miss calls like the trip when it is that blatant that continues to be the problem. For a lot of this postseason it seems the NHL has thrown away the rule book every team has been playing by all season long because they don’t want to decide the outcome of the game. How’s that working out for you NHL? By not calling penalties you are deciding an outcome and quite frankly that needs to stop. Go through any series and you can find egregious calls for and against every team. It seems like years ago but do you remember Boston vs Toronto Game Two? That was a game where nothing was called and the NHL was embarrassed by it. How many crews have been suspended because of an embarrassing call?

Solutions

I don’t have a perfect answer, no one does. Anything that will get thrown out and tried will go through trial runs and upset people. You have video review though…USE IT!!! The five minute major called on Vegas in Game Seven against San Jose cost them that game. Take a minute go look at a monitor and realize “I messed up I should change the call” but no these are non review able. San Jose I don’t mean to pick on you I really don’t, but the hand pass, how long would that have taken to review? Thirty seconds tops? (Blues fans stop complaining about that it got evened up and you won the series) Add in the fact that officials don’t get to be asked things by the media and if coaches or players dare criticize them they get fined. Rant aside let’s get back to the game.

Rest of Third

After a small delay when Boston fans threw trash on the ice, the Bruins started to take over again as the Blues went into a shell. Finally with around Six and half minutes left Jake DeBrusk scored and the TD Garden was able to go crazy for a positive result. The Bruins kept pouring on the pressure and a puck got through Binnington and was swept away by Carl Gunnarsson and that might have saved the game. The Bruins kept coming and coming until finally the Blues were able to corral a puck and get it out as the buzzer went off giving them a 3-2 series lead.

Wrap Up

This thing is far from over. The Bruins were down 3-2 to the Leafs after losing a home Game Five and went into Toronto played a great road game and then came home and got a Game Seven win. The Enterprise Center will be going crazy and this will be the toughest game of the playoffs for the Blues. Their job was made much tougher as it was announced Ivan Barbashev will be suspended for the game. The Bruins may have lost but for large stretches of the game they dominated and another effort like that in St. Louis and this thing will be going to a Game Seven. If you want to be entertained though go on twitter and find the video of the two Bruin fans fighting. Always fun to see two fans of the same team going at it in the crowd, and with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music behind them it is perfect.

all numbers and stats gained from NHL.com

Featured Image are products owned by Nikos Michals and created by Tony Ferrari. 

Boston Bruins: Dominant In Game Three Against The St. Louis Blues

The Boston Bruins Left No Doubt As They Outplayed The St. Louis Blues In Game 3

 

Downtown St. Louis was rocking for the first Stanley Cup Final game in 49 years, with thousands upon thousands of people packed the different venues in the downtown area. There was a buzz in the air.

That excitement died after one period as the Boston Bruins took a commanding 3-0 leading heading into the first intermission. The game started out well enough for St. Louis as they came out strong, including Sammy Blais landing a massive hit on David Backes and Jake Debrusk took a penalty for kneeing almost right away. That sound you heard when the penalty was called was from Toronto, with Maple Leafs fans yelling FINALLY!!!.

The Bruins held strong on the penalty kill though, and finally got a shot through on Jordan Binnington with 13:57 left in the first from Torey Krug, who had an excellent game.

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Blues fans went crazy as Binnington made an incredible save off the stick of David Pastrnak. That was when Boston really started to dominate as David Perron took a penalty for interfering with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins power play went to to work. Krug got a shot off and Patrice Bergeron tipped it in for his ninth of the playoffs.

Boston continued to control the play and with 2:20 left in the first, Charlie Coyle continued his strong playoff as he flipped one through the legs of Binnington to put the Bruins up 2-0. A couple of minutes later, Sean Kuraly put one in right before the end of the period and it was 3-0 and the crowd was deflated. The Blues challenged it for offside, which proved to be the wrong choice and the goal stood and the Bruins went back on the power play just as the first period ended.

Second Period

With another power play the Bruins went to work and Pastrnak scored, making that four goals in the last five shots for the Bruins. Things starting getting chippy after that and after every whistle it seemed as if there was white sweater and blue sweater face to face, yapping at each other.

The Blues had their chance on the power play as Zdeno Chara went off for an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Tyler Bozak had a prime opportunity in front of the net and Tuukka Rask made a nice save pushing it aside.

The St. Louis crowd had something to cheer about though as Ivan Barbashev potted one off a nice feed from Zach Sanford and it was now 4-1. The Blues crowd tried to will their team to get back into it but Colton Parayko took a penalty for high sticking Brad Marchand, and Krug scored on a shot Binnington would like back and it was 5-1.

For the first time in his young National Hockey League career,  Binnington was pulled and replaced by Jake Allen. Play went back and forth for a little bit after that but the Blues were unable to beat Rask with anything and the Bruins took that 5-1 lead into the third period.

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Third Period

If you thought things were getting chippy before, Perron took a roughing call against Rask in a play that was very unnecessary from the Blues forward, who had a very rough game. Connor Clifton, however, took a matching minor so the Bruins were unable to put their lethal power play back on the ice.

The Bruins penalty kill was able to kill off a penalty called on Carlo but were put right back on it with Chara getting sent to the box for roughing. Parayko gave Blues fans a ray of hope when he was able to put one in off a Bruin glove and it flipped over Rask cutting the lead to 5-2.

DeBrusk then flipped one over the glass and got sent to the box for a Delay of Game penalty and many were wondering if the Blues were really going to be able to make this a game again. It wasn’t meant to be though as the Boston penalty kill was outstanding once again.

Things seem to stay under control for a little while and the Blues pulled Allen for an extra attacker, trying to get back into the game. St. Louis was able to put a little pressure on Rask, but he was up to the task and Noel Acciari got the empty netter to extend the lead to 6-2. Alex Pietrangelo was called for slashing and the Bruins put an exclamation point on this dominant performance when Marcus Johansson scored the final goal of the game in a 7-2 final giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead in this best of seven series.

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Wrap Up

The only good news for Blues fans is that even though Boston dominated, it only counts for one game and if your a Bruin fan you have to beaming with confidence after one the biggest beat downs in recent memory in the Stanley Cup Final. Another effort like that on Monday and the Bruins will have a chance to end this next week at the TD Garden in Boston.

We have seen the Blues and Binnington bounce back after tough losses and they will need to do so again in a must win game at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis Monday evening.

The Bruins went 4-4 on the power play and it only took four shots, which is unacceptable from an NHL team, but also goes to show how great this Bruins team is. Rask wasn’t unbelievable in Game 3, but came up big when the Bruins need him too, stopping 27 of 29 shots. Binnington was pulled after only stopping 14 of 19 shots and Allen in relief duty stopped three of the four shots he faced.

Krug had a four-point night with a goal and three assists and after a quiet first couple of games, Bergeron came on strong with a goal and two assists.

Game 4 is set for Monday at 8:00 E.T. in what will be a must-win for the Blues, or Boston will take a commanding 3-1 lead.

 

All statistics were gained from NHL.com

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

 

Stanley Cup Final Puck77 Roundtable Picks

A rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup final, the last time the Blues reaches the series, the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues are set to do battle. The Puck77 team is here to make their picks!

Justin Miner: Blues in 6

I think long layoffs can really take the winds out of a goaltender’s sails. As evidenced in the previous rounds, both the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes were not able to regain the momentum they had after the breaks. St. Louis should be able to use its’ size to neutralize the top line of the Bruins, so long as they avoid the penalty box. 

Conn Smythe Winner: Jordan Binnington

Kyle Pereira: Bruins in 6

The Boston Bruins have the better team on paper and while Binnington has been great, he has not nearly been on the same level as Tuukka Rask. The scoring on Boston is high powered and they bring a very in-your-face forecheck and give you no time to break the puck out cleanly. That being said, there is a way that the St. Louis Blues can win and it wouldn’t surprise me. Boston’s first forward line, and more specifically, David Pastrnak, always make that extra, unnecessary pass, that can either make a goal a highlight reel type goal, or he’ll look stupid and turn the puck over. For the Blues, they need to play physical along the boards and plug the slot area with big bodies to take away that extra pass. As for the depth lines, they need to mimic Boston’s and forecheck aggressively and give the Bruins defenders no time to move the puck. If they can play that same game as the Bruins depth pieces and shut down the Bruins top line, they only have one focus. Beat Tuukka. Tuukka is on a long break and he was on a similar break in 2013 before they faced the Blackhawks. Up to that point, Tuukka had been playing well and after the break, didn’t look as good. St Louis needs to hope for that same thing to happen for them to beat Boston. But there’s a lot more that has to go right for St. Louis to win than Boston. That’s why I have Boston in 6.

Conn Smythe Winner: Tuukka Rask

Frederick Frandsen: Bruins in 6

The reason I picked the Bruins to win, is the fact that they have built the perfect playoff team. A first line with Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron that is near impossible to stop. Something they had for a few years now, but without deep runs to show for it. The difference this year is that they have managed to fix the weaknesses of the past. They have a scary depth with Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle as two key pieces who can provide the scoring needed if the first line is kept quiet. The defense is as good as ever and players like Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk has taken the next step and has given the Bruins some much needed speed on the backend. Especially McAvoy and his speed allows him to be the perfect partner to Zdeno Chara, who has lost a lot of his speed with age, but still has the amazing size and awareness.

And then there is the main reasoning. While Jordan Binnington has been great for the St. Louis Blues, no other goalie has been at the same level as Tuukka Rask in this playoff. And if a goalie was to crumble I don’t think that will be Rask, since he has been here before. Something Binnington hasn’t and while he has looked cool and calm throughout the playoff so far, the Stanley Cup finals is a whole different beast. Therefore, I think Boston will take a close series, with Rask becoming the Conn Smythe winner in game six.

Conn Smythe Winner: Tuukka Rask

Jon Margolis: Bruins in 5

My Stanley Cup Finals prediction is the Boston Bruins winning in five games with Tuukka Rask continuing his domination in goal. The Bruins are just too stacked with their top line and have enough fire power throughout their second and third lines to keep the St. Louis Blues busy trying to stop them. To compliment the top three lines is a defense that can withstand anything the Blues throw at them. Accompanying the defense is a goalie in Tuukka Rask that is poised to win the Conn Smythe Trophy if he puts together what I think he is capable of doing.

The Bruins are too fast, and unlike the Sharks, will not get pushed off the puck or be subject to the Blues relentless checks. As for the goaltenders, yes, there is Jordan Binnington and he has been simply amazing for the last three games the Blues won. But Tuukka Rask has been here before and will continue to be dominant. Having more experience and a seasoned defense in front of him, he will make a huge difference. One more factor to mention is this is not the first rodeo for these Bruins, a large majority of the current roster went to the Cup Finals in 2013, losing in six to the Chicago Blackhawks.

One more cool stat. Should the Bruins win, this will be the only other time a city has won the World Series, Super Bowl (NFL Championship) and the Stanley Cup all in one year, Detroit did it back in 1935.

Conn Smythe Winner: Tuukka Rask

Tony Ferrari: Blues in 7

The St. Louis Blues are the team of destiny. The Blues have been the hottest team since the new year and now they are in the Stanley Cup finals. They will be in tough against the Bruins who certainly have the better high end scoring in their top line monsters. The Blues key will be their relentless forecheck and constant pressure of the puck carrier. They need to stay out of the box and make sure that they limit the Bergeron line. They are unlikely to stop it but slowing it down should be the goal.

They will need scoring from throughout their lineup to impact the game more than the depth of the Bruins can. The bottom-six of the blues will need to win their matchups. Players like Patrick Maroon and Alex Steen will need to continue to be effective. The health of Vince Dunn on the backend will be important to ensure that the Blues will have options on the back end, not putting too much on Jay Bouwmeester. Most of all, the Blues top line, specifically Jaden Schwartz will need to continue to find the back of the net.

Conn Smythe Winner: Jaden Schwartz

Josh Tessler: Bruins in 4

The St. Louis Blues have been a tough team to face and have taken down pretty tough competition, but I’m not sure they have the fire power to get past the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals. 

If you compare the Bruins to the Blues in every zone, you’ll see that the Bruins are the better squad. The Bruins forward group has had its issues including a slump from David Pastrnak at the tail end of the season, but even when someone is slumping on the Bruins, it’s hard to notice it as someone else is pitching in. In addition, over the course of the playoffs, we’ve seen Charlie Coyle, Marcus Johansson and David Krejci step up and be a dominant force in the offensive zone. In the defensive zone, the Bruins’ third pairing, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton have been dynamic. The Bruins depth is incredible and the best part for Bruins nation is that they’ve been outstanding when facing top line competition. The Bruins don’t solely have to rely on their top defensive unit to shut down top offensive units. Lastly, Tuukka Rask has been elite. I remember telling folks around the Boston area that Rask was going to be even better than Tim Thomas. A lot of folks thought I was nuts, but Rask has shown his elite talent throughout the playoffs and is worthy of a Conn Smythe.

Conn Smythe Winner: Tuukka Rask

Thanks for joining us for another round table here at Puck77. Enjoy the Stanley Cup finals! The 2018-19 season is almost at a close and now all that’s really left to do is enjoy the final. Cheers!

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals