NHL Stanley Cup Final 2019: Bruins vs. Blues Game 3 Odds and PredictionsJune 1, 2019
The St. Louis Blues had a problem in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final when the Boston Bruins found their legs and consistently won races to the puck. That advantage allowed the Bruins to take control of the game and earn a 4-2 victory.
The Blues did not get faster prior to Game 2, but they found a strategy that allowed them to gain control of the puck and dominate the action as the game progressed. By the time overtime started, the Bruins were fighting desperately to hang on. That proved impossible, as the Blues dominated the short extra session as defenseman Carl Gunnarsson blasted home the winner and tied the series.
Boston's speed proved decisive in Game 1, while St. Louis dominated the physical play in Game 2. Does that mean the best assets of both teams have already been determined as the series moves to St. Louis for Game 3 Saturday night? It may not be that simple.
Game 3 Information
Stanley Cup Final: Boston Bruins at St. Louis Blues
Series Standings: 1-1
Date: Saturday, June 1
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network
Odds: Blues -120, Bruins +100 (per VegasInsider.com)
The Bruins have traditionally been one of the hardest-hitting teams in the league, and while they have speed up and down their roster with players like Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug, they still have big players who can deliver the kind of hits that bring fans out of their seats.
The leader in that area is 6'9" defenseman Zdeno Chara, who continues to punish opponents at the age of 42. David Backes, Noel Acciari and defenseman Charlie McAvoy will also deliver big hits on a consistent basis.
The Bruins are comfortable playing a physical game, and the Blues are comfortable playing the speed game—as long as they are taking the body to the Bruins.
The Blues have plenty of size and strength, and as long as Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester and Patrick Maroon are finishing their checks, they are slowing down their opponents. That has allowed them to win races to the puck against the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks, their previous playoff opponents.
The Bruins were favored in the first two games of the series in Boston, and it's not a huge surprise to see that the Blues are slight favorites as the venue changes to St. Louis.
The Blues are fighting for the first Stanley Cup in team history, and their win in Game 2 was the first it has ever recorded in Stanley Cup Final competition after 13 consecutive losses. They will receive a roaring welcome from their supportive home fans, who have seen their team rise from having the worst record in the league as late as January 3 to the point where they are three games away from their first Stanley Cup.
As well as the Blues have played in the postseason, their previous series victories has been keyed by success on the road. They have an 8-3 record away from home, but their record in the Enterprise Center is 5-5.
The Bruins have a 7-4 home playoff record and are 6-2 on the road during the postseason. Players like Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask have demonstrated they are not easily intimidated when they leave the confines of TD Garden and play away from home.
The Blues are slight favorites in Game 3, as VegasInsider.com lists them at -120 while the Bruins are +100. A Blues backer will risk $120 to win $100, while Bruins bettors will put up $100 to earn a $100 profit.
The Bruins' top line of Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak has been held in check during the first two games, with Marchand scoring the unit's only goal when he potted an empty-netter in Game 1.
Puck possession and scoring opportunities have been hard to come by, but that was also the case in early parts of previous playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. The talent of this unit should deliver an improved performance in Game 3.
However, the Blues are not going to allow that trio to dominate. St. Louis head coach Craig Berube will send Parayko and Bouwmeester every time Boston's top line hits the ice.
This should be another tight game that will either be decided in the third period or overtime. The raucous St. Louis fans will provide support, but the veteran Bruins will survive the early onslaught and emerge with a one-goal victory that will allow them to regain home-ice advantage.