It’s not the NHL Finals we expected, but it’s the NHL Finals we got! So how will things shake out as the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins battle it out for the prized NHL hardware that is the shiny, silver Stanley Cup? Well, we’re just four wins away from finding out. If you want to see these teams play – whether in Boston or St. Louis – we’ve got cheap NHL Finals tickets right here! Well, as cheap as these bad boys are gonna get anyway…
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Each team has some time to rest and practice before this final series of seven gets underway. Game 1 starts Monday, May 27th at 8PM in Boston. They’ll play two games there before heading back to St. Louis for Game 3 on June 1st. Check out the full schedule and game times here.
So… how did we get this matchup? Who’s going to win it all? Here are some thoughts, stats, predictions, odds, and expectations going into the upcoming NHL Finals.
The Boston Bruins
The Bruins knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and then the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second, avoiding the dirty work of having to take care of the over-hyped Tampa Bay Lightning themselves. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they managed to stop the hot-streaking Carolina Hurricanes with a strong and startling 4-0 shutout. Nobody is questioning the fact that Boston deserves to be here. Heading into the Finals, they’re on a seven-game win streak, the most playoff wins in a row of any Bruins team since 1972.
While the Blues have been battling it out with the San Jose Sharks in the West, the Bruins have been scrimmaging to stay sharp for the Finals. They’ve got 11 days off in between series, the most in recent NHL history. Whether that’s a good or bad thing for teams heading into the Stanley Cup Finals remains to be seen, but at least it’ll give them time to heal any injuries. However, it’s not typically the best thing for hot goalies and Boston definitely has one of those in Tuuka Rusk. As the team’s playoff MVP, he’s saving at a rate of .942 at the moment, allowing only nine goals and finishing with two shutouts this postseason.
Rask isn’t concerned about all that time off though, saying “It’s only as big of a challenge I guess as you make it. Practice during practice and then take time off when there’s time off. You know I don’t think about how I feel… So just stay sharp on the ice, do the work you need to do, and play when the puck drops. That’s about it.” Oh, okay, simple as that, huh?
Boston is eyeing their seventh Stanley Cup in franchise history. If you’re a gambler, the Bruins have been given -150 odds to win the whole thing, giving them a 58% chance to take home the Cup. But hey, not so fast…
The St. Louis Blues
The three-seeded Blues took care of the Winnipeg Jets in the first round and followed it up with a tight 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Again, this team also avoided having to beat the number-one seeded team in their bracket, the Nashville Predators. But then they took care of the San Jose Sharks by closing out the Western Conference Finals 4-2 in decisive fashion with three straight wins. So here we are – the first Finals for St. Louis since 1970. And no, they’ve never won a Cup. The last time they were here, the Blues got swept… by the Bruins. But don’t let that get you down!
The Blues have had an incredible season and their resilience is what has gotten them through. To say they’ve turned things around is an understatement. They came from the bottom of the NHL back in January to the top of the heap in May. The Blues showed a killer instinct in their final matches against the Sharks and now they’re on a bit of a hot streak themselves, finishing up with those three crucial wins in a row. Goalie Jordan Binnington had a save percentage of .974 during those three games. They have to be feeling good.
After their latest win to finish off the Sharks, Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said, “We stuck together, we kept believing in each other. We had some good, hard, honest conversations, and we all knew we needed to be better from top down. We looked each other in the eye, we looked in the mirror and we did that. A lot of people doubted us this year, but this group was resilient; and I really am proud of the guys because as hard as it is, it’s been fun to look back and see where we are now.”
The fact that St. Louis has played so many series of six or more games during this postseason only adds to their resilience and experts believe that could be what sees them through to the Stanley Cup, particularly when Boston has had so much time off following a four-game series. The Blues are strong and they’ve got momentum on their side now. They might be starting the Finals in Boston, but funnily enough, the Blues are excellent on the road, winning seven of their nine away games during the playoffs. So don’t count them out! This could be very well be their first Stanley Cup ever!
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