Central Division #3 vs. Atlantic Division #2
St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins
A team that was at the bottom of the standings for the entire league back in January, has now clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Final. That honor belongs to the St. Louis Blues who will be making their fourth appearance in franchise history. They made three consecutive appearances during the first three years of their existence back in 1967-70. They didn’t win a single game in those three appearances losing to Montreal in two of them and the last one against Boston. Coincidentally they will be playing the Boston Bruins again for the 2019 Stanley Cup title. This incredible run by the Blues was in large part due to the emergence of their rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington. He is a finalist for the Calder Trophy and has a 1.17 GAA and .947 save percentage in the three series clinching games for the Blues in the playoffs. Besides their net-minder, they boast a solid group of forwards led by Jaden Schwartz who has 12 goals in the playoffs. He’s scored a hat-trick twice in this current playoff run. Ryan O’Reilly has been an excellent playmaker and you can’t forget about their best player in Vladimir Tarasenko who seemed to be heating up in the Conference Finals. Their blue line is big and physical. They’ve been a big reason why Binnington has made huge strides this season. Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester must continue to play at a high level against what the Bruins will throw at them.
They don’t have the same kind of praise historically as the Celtics or most recently the Patriots when it comes to championships, but the Bruins are no strangers when it comes to winning Stanley Cups. Their last championship was in 2011. Their last appearance was in 2013. They don’t want a repeat of that performance and most will say that the Bruins chances rest on the forward group of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Those three have 13 points or more in the playoffs and have been dominant whether with even strength or on the power play. They have a solid support group with David Krejci, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk. However, the one weakness with Boston has been on defense where they’ve had some poor play at times, but Tuukka Rask has been stellar throughout the playoffs. A 1.84 GAA and .942 save percentage during the entire run for the Bruins, Rask is the favorite right now for the Conn Smythe should they prevail. This is tall task for him as he will need some more help against a better forward group than the one they saw against Carolina. Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug have to play to their talent level for the Bruins to hoist another Cup.
Players to Watch: D Alex Pietrangelo and G Tuukka Rask
Who Wins: Blues in 6 games