The Boston Bruins season is over with an emotional 4-1 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night on TD Garden Ice. In a series that was so close and with the Bruins and Blues mirror images of each other, the team that established the forecheck first was going to win the game.
The Bruins came out hot and ready to go as they dominated the first period, but unfortunately they could get the lead on the scoreboard thanks in part to the play of Jordan Binnington. A red hot goalie was the worst thing that could have to the Bruins. Binnington stopped all 12 shots he faced and made several highlight-reel saves on David Krejci and Brad Marchand when the Bruins were on the power play. Not to mention, the numerous shots that were blocked or missed the net as the Bruins looked to score the all-important first goal.
Once the Blues found their game, the Bruins were in trouble. It all started at the 3:26 mark of the first period the Blues got the puck deep in the zone, and the Bruins could not get the puck out of the zone, which they had a problem with all series, were on their heels.
Sammy Blais hits Noel Acciari who has the puck and is about to start the Bruins breakout. Blais is supported by his teammate as there is a battle for the puck along the boards.
Off the turnover from Acciari, the puck will squirt free to Blais. Brandon Carlo will come into support the two Bruins in the corner, but he is passed by Blais who is able to get a shot on Tuukka Rask.
Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly will pick the puck off the rebound and skate with it behind the net and will pass the puck back to Blais. Notice that all five Bruins defenders are below the dots in their own defensive zone and still couldn’t with the puck battle.
Blais will skate out behind the net and pass the puck to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who is wide open on the point, as the Bruins are collapsed down low. Pietrangelo has several options, he can either pass back to Blais, shoot the puck on Rask, or pass the puck over to Jay Bouwmeester.
Pietrangelo will elect to pass the puck over to Bouwmeester, who shoots the puck towards the net and will be tipped by O’Reilly in the slot to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
Head Coach Bruce Cassidy summed it up best after the game on where he thought the game was lost.
“They did a good job on the first goal,” said Cassidy. “They knocked us off the puck twice. They get it low to high and then it goes either on net or down low, that was their game. They got the high tip, they got a fortunate kind of bounce there but they worked for it. The second one we just didn’t manage the puck.”
Just like the New Jersey Devils of the early 2000s, who were known for the “Neutral Zone Trap,” once the Blues got the lead the game was over. The Blues settled into their defensive system and through the Bruins off their game.