Blues made a statement in Game 2

Evan Marinofsky
May 30, 2019 - 1:53 pm
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Jordan Binnington looked calm, the Blues' top six eliminated the Bruins' top six, Matt Grzelcyk was taken out, and the Bruins were outshot 36-23. All were reasons why the Blues won 3-2 in Game 2 to tie the series. But even bigger picture, this is why the series is far from done. 

This was the Blues team everyone expected. 

The Blues came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to eventually win in overtime, which is only a small glimmer of their resiliency.

"They seemed to play with more urgency tonight than they did Game 1," said Bruce Cassidy of the Blues. "What they did was I thought they were on top of us, tighter than they did the first game. They didn't allow us to get the space. As a result, we didn't seem to win as many races as we did Game 1 to pucks." 

Whether it was the Ryan O'Reilly line or the Brayden Schenn line, they're both shutting down the Bruins' top trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. 

The "perfect" top line for the Bruins generated zero high-danger scoring chances in Game 2. They're a minus-7 through two Cup games and the coup de grâce of bad defensive plays was Marchand losing Vladimir Tarasenko on his goal in Game 2. 

"When we track hard I think it helps our D have good gaps and we keep them to the outside," said O'Reilly of shutting down the Bergeron line. "Obviously they're a dynamic line; they've got some great firepower and we're just trying to make it as difficult as we can on those guys. Not give them momentum and just being smart, being disciplined with the puck at the right times." 

They are making it as difficult as they can on them. Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak all had Expected Goals-For under 0.30 in Game 2. All three rank in the bottom six of xGF on their team for the series. 

"They just competed," said Marchand. "Hard. They won a lot of battles in our zone. They have a lot of good sticks, so they turn a lot of pucks over and created some offense off of that." 

Tying in with the top line's struggles, even worse has been the Bruins' power play, which St. Louis has held to a paltry 2-for-10. Ironically enough, Charlie Coyle kicked off Game 2 with a power play goal. And then the funk continued. 

"Win some draws and get it down and then really do a good job with our gaps on their entries from the breakouts," said Craig Berube of why the Blues are successful at shutting down the Bruins man-advantage. "I thought that we were really good there. We're tight. We forced them to turn pucks over in that area and got them down the ice, so that's really important because when they get O zone time on their power play they're very dangerous for sure." 

Another reason this series looks far from over is the Blues are carrying out a mission many expected them to -- they're going after the Bruins' small, puck-moving d-men. 

Torey Krug's hit was iconic in Game 1 but that all stemmed from David Perron pushing him down in front of the Boston net and slipping his helmet off. In Game 2, the outcome was nowhere near as positive for the Bruins, as Oskar Sundqvist knocked Matt Grzelcyk out of Game 2, Game 3 and possibly Game 4. 

"I don't think that's a hit we want in our game, I think it's from behind, elevated in to his head into the glass," said David Backes. "If that's a two-minute penalty, there's going to be a shortage of defensemen in this series by the end of it." 

The Blues religiously went at Erik Karlsson in their last series with the Sharks. Through two games, it's obvious the game plan is the same -- hit everything with a Spoked-B on its chest.  

"You pick your spots," said Joel Edmundson. "You don't want to go all over the place and take penalties, but I think our whole team is doing a good job of just playing physical, playing whistle to whistle, and after the whistle, just keeping our cool." 

The Blues outhit the Bruins 50-31 in Game 2 and 83-65 for the series. 50 hits in one game are video game-like numbers and they're also enough to give the Bruins some hesitation when going for loose pucks for the rest of the series. 

But back to the resiliency aspect of the Blues -- coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 sure looks a lot like their series with the Sharks. The Blues came back from 1-0 and 2-1 series deficits to win in six games. They also came back from down 3-2 in their series with the Stars to win in seven. 

"They play for each other night in and night out and they care," said Berube of his team's resiliency. "We've always responded to not a very good game, so you know, going into Game 2, I knew that we'd be a hard team to play against tonight and we were." 

The Blues are shaping up to play the Bruins just as they played the Sharks. 

More bad news for the Bruins. 

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