No one will dispute the fact that the Boston Bruins dominated the St. Louis Blues en route to a 4-2 victory in Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. Many in Boston expected the series to follow a similiar path to the Eastern Conference Final, which saw the Bruins breeze by Carolina in a clean sweep. The Bruins were not among that group that expected things to be easy.
The rest of New England found out that fact the hard way on Wednesday night.
Even after the first punch was delivered by Boston, St. Louis fought back. The Blues trailed on two separate occasions in the first period, but found a way to tally the equalizer both times. They gave themselves a puncher’s chance, and eventually took over the game. St. Louis dominated the second and third periods, then controlled a short overtime period before Carl Gunnarsson (1) scored the game winner on a one-timer on a delayed penalty.
The Bruins looked unbeatable against Carolina and in Game 1 against the Blues. In Game 2 it was vastly different. The Blues asserted themselves physically, at times bullying the Bruins. Matt Grzelcyk got crunched along the wall by Oskar Sundqvist on a hit from behind and was forced to leave the game in the opening period, while Patrick Maroon was a thorn in the Bruins’ side all night long.
St. Louis played their game and came away with a very important victory in Game 2. They outplayed the Bruins, but it can also be said that the Bruins simply didn’t play well at all. They have a higher gear to their game, and Wednesday night was an overdue disappointment that snapped their eight-game playoff winning streak.
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t thrilled with his team’s game on Wednesday night, and let it be known on the club’s off-day Thursday that they can be, and need to be, better. “We need to be better, period. I thought we were good in front of them. A couple of bad breakdowns that they capitalized on. I thought we were solid in terms of the overall play, team defense. The other night they got their game better in terms of O zone puck possession” Cassidy told reporters prior to the club’s flight to St. Louis.
The Bruins suffered their first loss in nearly a month Wednesday, snapping the aforementioned eight-game winning streak that included three straight wins against Columbus in the second round. Not only will Boston be in the unfamiliar position of trying to rebound, but they will be heading into a hostile road environment in St. Louis. It presents a challenge to this veteran Boston group.
Is Cassidy worried? Even though he knows his group must be better, it doesn’t appear like he is. “We’ve been in enemy territory. Toronto, not easy to win there. Went to Columbus, Carolina. We got a veteran crew. They’ve been there before” began the third-year bench boss.
“I don’t anticipate they’ll be overwhelmed. I suspect St. Louis will be up, they should be. The team is in the Stanley Cup Finals. How we prepare coming off a losing streak? We kind of prepare the same every game: prepare to win, what we need to do to win.”
Boston’s stern leader behind the bench has pushed every button correctly over his short tenure with the team. In just his second full season, he has Boston three wins away from their second Stanley Cup of the decade, and has led one of the best playoff runs in franchise history. His cool, calm demeanor is a big reason why the Bruins have been able to handle adversity all season long. It doesn’t look like that will change now.