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This transcends the series, folks.

It's the Stanley Cup Final. Things are getting intense, with the rivalry between the Bruins and Blues heating up.

Big hits. Blood. Injuries. Punches. These are all part of the game.

However, some things are bigger than rivalry.

Last night, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington's life was in danger after he suffered a scary fall in the crease.

You can see it below, but be warned - this isn't for the faint of heart.

is jordan binnington ok pic.twitter.com/3MvHX9XU7e

— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) June 4, 2019

We're sorry that you had to see that again. Difficult to watch.

Right now, we're putting this Final aside and thinking about the human being - we sincerely hope that Jordan Binnington is able to make a full recovery and resume living his life.

No one should have to go through that. Here's to hoping that he comes out unscathed in the long term.

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Mysteries are fun.

Here's the exciting update on Zdeno Chara: we don't really have one.

#NHLBruins coach Bruce Cassidy meeting with the media this morning before returning to Boston.

No update on Zdeno Chara. Will have to wait for team to get home to find out more. pic.twitter.com/GjnoDdZhjL

— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 4, 2019

The initial thought in this is that it's not really good news. If the Bruins thought Chara's ailment could be healed with rest, we probably wouldn't hear "we'll see."

The guess is that Chara needs to see a specialist of some kind to assess the level of damage, reportedly to his teeth but potentially to his jaw.

Zdeno Chara update per Bruce Cassidy: “Was very uncomfortable and was advised not to return...wanted to be on bench for his teammates. Don’t know his status for Game 5.” pic.twitter.com/Y59XnePA2e

— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 4, 2019

The guess here is that they were able to do some quick dental work that was in danger of coming out if Chara got hit, potentially making the situation worse.

It seems like the ideal scenario is that it's dental issue and that Chara is able to get a more stable fix put in today or tomorrow. That would give him a day or so to feel things out.

Still, it was good to see Chara on the bench in the third, even if the ending wasn't great. A guy with that much experience can still help the team from the bench, calling out coverage, offering advice, etc.

Of course, he wanted to be out there instead.

Marchand on Chara: "If it wasn't for the doctor, he would've played that game. He's that kind of guy that you're going to have to kill him to keep him off. He's an absolute leader and those things you gain respect for him every single day with what he's willing to go through."

— Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey) June 4, 2019

Let's hope his Game 5 impact is on the ice instead.

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A disappointing last 20 minutes in a winnable game.

Streamables tonight! As always, if you don’t see the highlight, it’s likely due to being on mobile. Click the link in each description to see it.

Things didn’t get off to a great start, as Ryan O’Reilly tucked home a wraparound to give the Blues a 1-0 lead a minute into the game.

A good “take the hit to make the play” by Danton Heinen, a toss on net by Zdeno Chara, and a rebound goal for Charlie Coyle makes it a 1-1 tie.

Four Bruins decide not to bother trying to take the puck from Brayden Schenn, and the sequence ends with Vladimir Tarasenko burying a rebound to make it 2-1 Blues.

An unlucky moment for Zdeno Chara, as the puck rides up and hits him in the mouth. He’d leave the game. He returned to the bench in the third, but didn’t skate a shift.

The Bruins were getting absolutely dominated in the second, then took a penalty to make things worse...OR BETTER. A great play by Brad Marchand, a horrible rebound by Jordan Binnington, and a big goal for Brandon Carlo makes it a 2-2 tie.

Hey, Ryan O’Reilly again! The first goal-scorer becomes the winning goal-scorer when he pots a rebound late in the third to make it 3-2 Blues.

The Blues would add an empty-netter, and we had a 4-2 final.

The series is tied a 2 games apiece, with Game 5 at the Garden on Thursday night.

Game notes
  • This is a tough one to digest. The Blues played well...or did the Bruins play poorly? The Bruins got absolutely run over for long stretches of this game, but were very much in it in the third. Carlo’s goal gave them a boost, but they didn’t carry it over into the third.
  • The power play, which was immense in Game 3, sunk the Bruins tonight. They were listless, lifeless, fruitless...and any other -less. The B’s had a power play in the middle of the third with the game tied, and barely registered any pressure. Frustrating.
  • Hard to put the blame on Rask for this one, though some will for his rebounds. My larger beef is with the Bruins in front of him on the 2nd and 3rd goals: how do you allow a Blues player to waltz right down Broadway and feast on a loose puck? Ugly. Plus, Rask kept the team in the game for large stretches.
  • Binnington, who was allegedly Mr. Bounceback, wasn’t very good tonight. At least in Rask’s case, the rebounds he gave up were on hard (and hard to handle) shots. Still, Binnington did enough to win, so there’s some sour grapes in all of this.
  • We’re officially at “TAEKS TIMEEEEE” for the Bruins’ top 6. I don’t even know if Patrice Bergeron played tonight. David Pastrnak didn’t do much. Marchand had a good play on the Carlo goal, but didn’t do much else. David Krejci was fighting the puck all night. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
  • However, the third line was great. Charlie Coyle continues to impress, and Marcus Johansson had some decent shifts. Heinen will get flak for not scoring, but he’s making decent plays away from the puck to set up his linemates.
  • Connor Clifton got to me on that empty-netter. Did it really matter? Eh. Hard to say, as the Bruins weren’t exactly looking super dangerous. But to watch Clifton try to deke his way through center ice with his net empty was infuriating to watch. No offense to Clifton, but he’s not known for his hands. I get trying to make a play like that in the second period or something, but not with the net empty. He’ll learn from it, which is important. Sometimes, with the net empty, you have to make the safe play.
  • By the way, the deking mentioned above applies to plenty of guys other than Clifton too. Too many Bruins are trying to make fancy plays when the simple play will do. Part of it tonight was probably just frustration, as they spent long stretches hemmed in their own end. When the offense isn’t working, players try to get too fine.
  • The absence of Zdeno Chara was mentioned every 10 seconds by NBC, so it’s important to note that he didn’t play in the third. Did not. Didn’t play. Did not play a shift. Did you hear that?
  • The two full days off in between games should be a boost for the Bruins. It’s unlikely that Matt Grzelcyk is ready, but it should give Zdeno Chara some time to rest.
  • It was predictable, but after Craig Berube whined about the officiating to the press, the refs let a ton of stuff go tonight. This definitely played in the Blues’ favor, as they were taking runs at anything they could. Still, the Bruins did get chances on the PP eventually, and couldn’t do anything with them.

Back at it on Thursday!

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(At least) one more time in St. Louis!

Game 4! The Blues made some tweaks. The Bruins are rolling with what got them here.

Who wins out?

Discuss.

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He’s entering uncharted territory.

Sure, Jordan Binnington has been very good in games after a loss. But after being pulled from Game 3, he’s entering uncharted territory.

Will his confidence really be that low? I expect Binnington to have some worry coming into Game 4, but after he get’s settled, he’ll probably be fine.

The Blues’ goaltender has given up five or more goals four times in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and all of those starts came with a loss. More importantly, Binnington was only pulled from one of those starts - Game 3 against Boston.

It’s also extremely important to look at Binnington’s stats after giving up five-plus goals. His stats in those games are pretty good; in games following a five plus goal loss, Binnington has allowed just five goals through three games.

That comes with a .946 SV% and a 1.67 GAA. However, remember that he wasn't pulled from a start until the Stanley Cup Final and his confidence could be low.

Quite frankly, it’s difficult to analyze just how good or bad Binnington could be on Monday night. He could put up another stinker, considering the stats after a goalie has been pulled in the playoffs. Or, he could show us the best performance of his life, backstopping the Blues to a Game 4 victory.

If he’s able to settle in and focus, things could get ugly for the B’s real fast. If Binnington frustrates the Bruins like he did in Game 2, we may be looking at a tied series. Binnington is the key to a Stanley Cup victory for St. Louis, and there's no doubt about that.

The Blues lack depth at forward where the Bruins clearly don’t. To keep the St. Louis’ Cup dreams alive, it’ll be in Binnington’s hands to stymie the B’s in Game 4.

One thing’s for sure: if he gives up at least four goals, things won’t look good for either him or the Blues.

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St. Louis is making some tweaks.

While the Bruins have a defenseman on the shelf, the Blues are getting one back.

So looks like Sundqvist in for Fabbri, Dunn in for Bortuzzo. #stlblues

— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) June 3, 2019

Per those that follow the team, Vince Dunn's return is a boost for the Blues. Robert Bortuzzo hasn't been great, so this is probably an improvement.

For the Bruins, they're going with the status quo:

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Backes

Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

On defense:

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

John Moore - Connor Clifton

It’ll be Tuukka Rask between the pipes, and he will be E.L.I.T.E.

The new-ish look Blues will look as follows:

#stlblues practice lines

Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko
Sanford-O’Reilly-Perron
Maroon-Bozak-Blais
Barbashev-Sundqvist-Steen

Edmundson-Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester-Parayko
Dunn-Gunnarsson

Binnington

— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) June 3, 2019

One interesting note there: Zach Sanford, who played well on the 4th line in Game 3, has been elevated to the second line. Interesting.

Let's do it!

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At bedtime, the Blues check under their beds for Tuukka Rask

The Blues host the Bruins for Stanley Cup Final, Game #4 tonight at 8:00 PM ET on NBC.
  • Note to the Blues- playing “Enter Sandman” by Metallica during warmups simply served to pump up Tuukka Rask. That and your team’s lack of discipline cost the game. StLToday (Remember the backplate from his 2016 World Championship mask? NESN)
  • When we left off, the Bruins had chased Jordan Binnington and laid a 7-2 loss on the Blues in St. Louis. ESPN
  • Welcome back, “Perfection Line!” The Hockey New
  • Do you find yourself wistfully missing “Bad Brad Marchand?” WEEI
  • Kirk Luedeke has been watching, and he offers his observations from the Final following what he saw as a statement game on Saturday. Scouting Post
  • The Bruins refuse, however, to get cocky over a one game lead in the series. MassLive
  • Boston also shrugged off the Blues’ efforts to rattle or intimidate them into doing something stupid. Boston.com
  • Jack Edwards offered his Game #3 observations. He noted telling differences in each team’s morning skate, and highlighted one key moment early in the game. (Video, 5:31) Boston25News
  • Celebrate this Bruins team for being so very Boston. Andy Brickley came so close to winning a Cup with the Bruins, and understands what Charlie Coyle, Chris Wagner, and Matt Grzelcyk are feeling. The New York Times
  • All eyes are on one man on a mission- Tuukka Rask. Bonus- why it is a good thing that he didn’t see that now infamous off-the-netting goal from the Blue Jackets series. The Hockey News
  • Compare and contrast Patrice Bergeron to Ryan O’Reilly. ESPN
  • Bearing in mind that it IS Don Cherry, he praised the efforts of Zdeno Chara to shut down Vladimir Tarasenko. Boston.com
  • Once again, the Next Man Up has been tapped. John Moore has answered the call. He did see playoff action with the Rangers in 2014. Sporting News
  • The Bruins’ power play has been a key to the series. Cues from their coach fine-tune their approach for each opponent. TSN
  • Bruce Cassidy opened up about why he doesn’t consider himself a big, bad Bruin. Bonus- insight into Connor “Cliffy Hockey” Clifton, and who it is in the room he no longer actively coaches. (Video, 1:42) @NBCSCameraGuys
  • The Boston’s calling card has been secondary scoring, and it is paying off in spades. It is especially helpful when top lines stymie each other. Boston.com
  • So, how’re you liking the Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle acquisitions now? Boston Herald
  • From behind enemy lines, here is St. Louis’ brief to-do list for tonight. Puck Prose
  • How’s that media siege on the officiating working out for you, Craig Berube? There’s a reason your team has been racking up so many penalites (and a suspension, to boot.) Deadspin How about this response from @DaysOfY’Orr and subsequent BURN! @DaysOfY’Or
  • David Perron- Liability. Too bad the Blues don’t have enough depth to scratch him. Sorry, not sorry. Bleedin Blue
  • Here’s an odd take on the Bruins v. Blues matchup. @StanFischler The lads at Days of Y’Orr responded. @DaysOfY’Orr
  • Look back at the Bruins 2015 draft, but don’t scratch your heads- six of ten lads chosen have seen time on NHL ice, after all. Elite Prospects
Elsewhere around the rink:
  • The Morning Skate release includes apositive note on Rask’s road record. NHL
  • Peek behind the curtain at the U.S. Developemental Program, turning out the young hockey stars of tomorrow since 1997. NY Post
  • This year’s crop of youngsters represent 10 of 50 top North American prospects, having honed their skills against USHL and college teams while also representing the USA in international tournaments. The Courier
  • This summary of the NHL Combine incudes one burning question still haunting the top goalie prospect and the tale of one WHL player who only found out after his season ended that he had played through a broken wrist. NHL
  • Analytics will change how we watch NHL hockey, sooner rather than later. ZDNet
  • It pays to speak a foreign language. Finnish goaltenders are known to troll interviewers who clearly don’t speak Finnish. Those who do get to ask and get answers to wacky questions. (With video) Sportsnet
  • Too bad the Blues will have to forfeit the Stanley Cup. Tough break. NO, REALLY! The Onion
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The scoreline was great, but there's room for improvement.

Not often does a battle between the two best teams remaining in the National Hockey League finish with a score of 7-2 in favor of the road squad. But that’s exactly what happened when the Boston Bruins put forward a special teams clinic against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Typically with a result so one-sided, not much criticism comesfrom the winning club.

However, Brad Marchand certainly was not boasting about the group’s performance after the game.

https://twitter.com/NESN/status/1135189593723215872

Obviously nobody expected Marchand to go on about how well the team played, but claiming they could be better is quite the proposition after winning by 5 in the Stanley Cup Final.

He’s not wrong, though. The Bruins were solid, but they could’ve played much better, which is kind of ridiculous to think about.

At even strength, Boston only had 5 skaters who owned a positive shot-share. St. Louis on the other hand, had 13 players. That’s a pretty good indicator that the Blues were the ones controlling the pace when both sides were evenly manned.

Another way the the Bruins could’ve been better was with their net-front defense. Here’s a look at the shot chart for both teams from Saturday night’s contest:

Courtesy of https://www.hockey-reference.com/boxscores/201906010STL.html#all_advanced St. Louis Blues shot chart from Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Courtesy of https://www.hockey-reference.com/boxscores/201906010STL.html#all_advanced Boston Bruins shot chart from Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Just look at all of those juicy attempts Bluenote shooters had from right in the slot.

For as much credit as Boston’s depth and special teams gets, there’s no denying that Tuukka Rask completely outplayed Jordan Binnington in Game 3, and that had a massive impact on the outcome.

However, the unflattering shot rate and increasingly dangerous shot attempts allowed had a bit to do with game flow. St. Louis trailed 3-0 after the first period and was much more desperate to generate offense and put pucks on net than it’s opponents.

Still, the Bruins will have to be much more careful when nursing a lead. Allowing the opposing team to dominate the play at even strength is a really sound way to hand over a game.

So no, Marchand isn’t crazy, he’s right: The Bruins can be better.

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You could say that this one is PIVOTAL.

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 8ish PM

Where: Enterprise Center - St. Louis, Missouri

How to follow: NBC, CBC, TVAS, Sportsnet, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: St. Louis Gametime

Game notes
  • I’d expect tonight’s game to start closer to 8 PM than Game 3 did, but you never know. With this one being broadcast on NBC (instead of NBCSN) we may get another bit of a delay. WE’LL SEE.
  • It’s always funny to see playoff games called “pivotal,” because really, every playoff game is pivotal. Still, if there’s one game in this series that COULD be called pivotal, this is it: a Bruins win sends them home needing one win for the Cup, while a Blues win sends us back to Boston for a three-game series.
  • That’s why it’s kind of funny to look back at Game 3: the Bruins pulverized the Blues in a number of different ways, but St. Louis is still very much in this series. Hockey is fun.
  • Craig Berube spent some time yesterday complaining about the officiating, which isn’t surprising. It’s par for the course in the playoffs. Bruce Cassidy did the same thing in the first round against Toronto. Most of the time, the coaches probably don’t even believe what they’re saying, but they’re trying to get the ear of the refs and the league. Will it work? Probably not, since most of the penalties St. Louis has taken have been of the “really obvious” or “pretty dumb” variety.
  • All eyes are on Jordan Binnington tonight, as the rookie get shelled and pulled in Game 3. The consensus from hockey people is “he’ll bounce back,” with no real reasoning behind it other than that’s what he’s done before. Still, he looked horrible in Game 3, and wasn’t much better in Games 1 and 2. He still has it in him to steal one, of course, so Bruins fans shouldn’t count him out.
  • I would assume the Bruins won’t be making any lineup changes tonight, unless there’s more to the Charlie McAvoy knee scare (though that doesn’t appear likely).
  • For St. Louis, Oskar Sundqvist is eligible to return tonight. I’m not sure that he automatically goes back in, however, as Zach Sanford was pretty impressive (all things considered) in Game 3. He played a tough game, earned an assist, and was generally noticeable in a good way (not an easy thing to do in a 7-2 loss).
  • It will be interesting to see if St. Louis approaches this game any differently. They came out throwing the body at everything that moved in Game 3, then kept taking dumb penalties that essentially took them out of the game. One can’t help but wonder if they’ll be a little more conservative with the fear of a 100% Bruins power play in the back of their minds. Probably not, but if they DO tone it down, it’s an advantage for the Bruins.
  • Two of the Bruins’ three big guns turned it around on Saturday night, as Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak both ended up with goals. Brad Marchand didn’t, but made some good plays moving the puck on the PP. Ideally, this gets those three going at 5v5 as well.

See ya tonight!

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Communication is important, folks.

It’s kind of a fact of life in the NHL now: every time a goal is scored, fans have a split-second thought of “I wonder if it’ll be challenged for offside?”

The league’s efforts to get more accurate outcomes with expanded replay have been admirable, even if the millimeter-thin margin of error on offside challenges gets frustrating sometimes.

In Saturday night’s game, one of the most important moments of the night came late in the first period, when Sean Kuraly beat Jordan Binnington with a shot in the last minute of the period.

(Link)

The Bruins were suddenly up 3-0, with a great bit of hard work by the fourth line the catalyst...and then things were thrown into disarray when the Blues decided to challenge the play for being offside.

Once the replays started rolling, the results were pretty clear:

Ha.
THIS is offsides.

Again. Absolute joke. pic.twitter.com/9d3796nARf

— Kyle Keefe (@kylekeefetv) June 2, 2019

Joakim Nordstrom is 100% in the zone before the puck. During the American broadcast on NBCSN, most commenting agreed that it was offside. Watching that zoomed-in view of the skates made most viewers agree: this one was coming back.

And then...it stood. The crowd booed, the Bruins celebrated, and the head-scratching began.

The issue? The refs weren’t arguing that Nordstrom was in the zone before the puck. They were fine with that, because of how the puck got there.

A wider-angle look at the play shows that St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson was the one who knocked the puck back into his own zone, giving attacking players free reign to chase it down, regardless of onside/offside/eastside/westside.

The NBCSN staff began to realize this a few seconds after the decision came down, and it all made sense. The NHL explained the ruling online, and we all went about our lives.

The problem? No one told the fans who aren’t as ONLINE as the rest of us.

If you watch the broadcast again, the official comes back from review and just says the call stands. Good goal.

Imagine being in that arena, watching the NBCSN skate-focused replay: “He’s clearly offside, and the goal is coming back. Nice challenge, guys.”

And then...nope. It stands.

The league got the call right; no argument there. The whole incident, however, highlights an area where the league can improve: communicate, communicate, communicate.

Some officials are better at this than others, but the league should put a policy in place that requires officials to explain the reasoning behind their ruling.

I hate to point to the NFL as a bastion of CORRECT THINGS, but they get it right: “After reviewing the play on the field, the receiver came down in bounds with two feet, making this a touchdown.”

I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point.

Had the official announced at Enterprise Center that Edmundson was the one who controlled the puck back into his own zone, rendering the offside rule null and void, fans still would have booed, but at least they would have been informed.

Once the ruling was made, someone at NBCSN must have been in the broadcasters’ ears, as suddenly they began speculating “oh maybe THIS is what happened.” Even they weren’t sure of the logic.

I’m not asking the refs to become performance artists who read a soliloquy after every challenge, but the league owes it to its fans to ensure that they know what’s going on.

It’s a teaching moment for the league, and is something I’m sure they’ll improve on going forward.

After all, a little communication can go a long way.

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