After a long layoff, we can say it is finally here, the quest for the Cup begins tonight in Boston @ 8. Both teams are coming in rested and ready to go. The Bruins have waited 11 days for this opening game, while the Blues only waited six. Rust will play a factor early especially in the first period but expect that to go away quickly.
The Bruins are the favorite in this series at -165 and have the home-ice advantage. Up front the Bruins are deeper than the Blues, the Bruins can attack you with all four lines and this will be a key for the series. In the Columbus series, the fourth line helped the Bruins in a couple of games when their top line was silent. Depth is key to a deep playoff run and this fourth line reminds me of the 2011 fourth line. Tuukka Rask is playing out of his mind this postseason. His numbers are better than Tim Thomas’ magical run in 2011 and even though Binnington is playing out of his mind as well I give the Bruins the edge in net this series. Rask is a Vezina winning goalie and he is playing above that level right now. Currently, the favorite to win the Conn Smyth and rightfully so. Eleven days off is a long time for everyone to take off but Rask will be the least affected. He was facing shots every day in practice and as every hockey player knows goalies are wired differently.
The Bruins have been a consistent team all year. It did not seem like it at times this year but the Bruins were up there with the best teams in the NHL record and pointwise. They have been labeled as Cup contenders all year and now they are here.
From being in last place of the whole NHL on January 3rd to being in the Stanley Cup final, the Blues have had a strange season. During the offseason, they loaded up with talent adding Bozak, O’Reilly, and Maroon to name a few acquisitions. They were labeled as Cup contenders as well and for a majority of the season, the Blues flat out stunk. Then they went to a bar in Philadelphia and discovered Gloria, made it their win song and the rest is history. The Blues have dealt with it all this season and they are built to win the Stanley Cup. Binnington is playing out of this world right now and up front, the Blues have absolute studs in Tarasenko and O’Reilly but I do not think they are deep enough. Their fourth line was a key factor last series but can they keep it up. Since they moved Steen down to that line the fourth line has been on fire but the Bruins have the better fourth line. Where the Blues hold the advantage is on defense. Their defense core is full of some big bodies who can also contribute on the offensive side as well. Lead by Pietrangelo the Blues defense takes up a lot of ice and they will throw the body around.
The Blues started out horrendous but they are right where their GM, Doug Armstrong, predicted they would be. A big team with size who will throw the body and have a lot of skill on both ends of the ice will match up well with the Bruins.
These two teams met in the Stanley Cup in 1970 where the Bruins swept the Blues. I expect the Blues to get a couple of victories this series but not enough to come away with the Cup. The Bruins are slightly better than the Blues but not by much. This will be an evenly matched series but ultimately I think the Bruins depth up front and the spectacular play by Rask will win the Bruins the Cup. I have the Bruins winning in 7 games. I would not be surprised if the Bruins won in 5 as well, this series is going either 5 or 7 no in between. At the end of the day, I’m going with a Bruins victory in 7 games.