The Boston Bruins are a great road team. They’re 6-2 away from home in these playoffs, so they’ve got a lot of optimism in the tank as they roll into St. Louis for Game Three against the Blues Saturday.
Of course, Game Two saw the Bruins face the end of an eight-game winning streak and finally show some imperfection. St. Louis needed overtime to snag the 3-2 win Wednesday in Boston, but it was enough to punch a few holes in the arrangement.
“We’ve been in enemy territory,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Toronto, not easy to win there. Went to Columbus, Carolina. We’ve got a veteran crew. They’ve been there before. I don’t anticipate they’ll be overwhelmed. I suspect St. Louis will be up, should be. The team is in the Stanley Cup Finals.”
There is every indication that Cassidy’s right, that the Blues won’t be overwhelmed. On the contrary, they’ll be looking to build on an aggressive forecheck that showed up in Game Two and took the fight to the opposition.
For Boston, that provides a blueprint for improvement in their own right.
“I think taking care of the pucks first of all, executing a little better in our zone,” said Patrice Bergeron on Thursday. “I think that it starts there. And yeah, a lot of unforced errors I thought last night. And just an overall better game, very simply. I don’t think there’s 50 things that need to be better, I think it’s just play a little bit more our way, our style like we did in Game One.”
In that Game One, the Bruins outchanced the Blues by a lot and seemed to own all the opportunities.
But by the end of Game Two, things evened out. Now the teams look nearly equal in many areas, including when it comes to generating five-on-five chances. The Bruins have the edge in getting screened opportunities (18-11) thus far, however, and that could tilt things in their favour if they get in Jordan Binnington’s head.
On the contrary, the Blues aren’t moving enough when it comes to scoring chances. While they’ve had more time in the offensive zone than the Bruins, they aren’t making goalie Tuukka Rask work for it as much as they should. Boston is blocking shots and getting in the passing lanes, cutting down on opportunities.
And they’ve been frustrating the Blues to the point that they’re taking penalties. St. Louis is taking twice as many trips to the box as their opponents and that’s going to cost them. That’s a big part of the Bruins’ game.
So yes, a return to form would be good if the Bruins want to take Game Three. They’re doing most of the little things right and have done little to dissuade talk of their taking this whole thing home.
As for the Blues, they’ll need to build on that Game Two momentum. And please, stay out of the penalty box.
(Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)