I’m sure you’ve seen it happen multiple times in playoff series. One team gets utterly dominated in the opening game and critics immediately declare the series “over”.
It happened in the NBA Playoffs with the Bucks and Celtics. Boston found a way to shut down the Bucks and NBA critics were ready to write the Celtics into the next round. As everyone knows, that didn’t happen because the Bucks stormed back. My point? Sometimes you need to get stung early and light that fire within to produce a comeback and take back control. Sports is about momentum and emotion, whoever controls those has the upper hand.
So where does all that play into the Stanley Cup Finals? St. Louis surged ahead by two goals in game one against the Bruins, in Boston, but then the wheels came off. They quickly fell behind and never came back, losing 4-2. If game two picks up where the first left off, the Blues could be in trouble, but they aren’t, by any means, out of this series yet.
What went wrong for the Blues?
St. Louis gave their goalie little to no help through game one. He faced a lot of shots straight on, very little deflections and the Bruins were too stick-savvy in the later periods. Turnovers certainly didn’t help either. Granted, the Blues were able to take advantage of a mistake by Boston and turn it into a quick goal. They’d essentially return the favor after turning the puck over in the neutral zone, leading to a quality attack for Boston which ended up with a goal.
Does it really surprise anybody at all that this series is going to be full of physicality? It shouldn’t. Both of these teams are known for playing hard-nosed hockey, that’s how the Blues wore down the Stars and Sharks after all. Boston is that next echelon of physicality and St. Louis tried to up their game, and failed. So many power play chances coming from poor decisions. Luckily, the Bruins only scored once on a power play, but sometimes once is the difference between winning and losing.
What they should do different
They shouldn’t change anything yet unless they swap some guys from one line to another. Their game style doesn’t change and shouldn’t. It’s too late in the season to try and change things up too much. That being said, their defense needs to step up more. Sure they might have the Rookie of the Year back in net, but sometimes he looks a rookie and sometimes he looks an All-Star.
You can bet that Craig Berube, potential Coach of the Year, will have his troops ready and focused for game two. They’ve done it before in these playoffs, and that should be motivation in itself. Once they take the lead, they can’t take their foot off the pedal, especially on the road.
Lastly, they just need to play smart hockey. They can’t hope their passes won’t get picked off and lead to odd-man rushes and they certainly shouldn’t be going to the box for poor choices on the ice. If they do those things, they should have a legitimate chance of going home with a tied series. If that does happen, watch out Boston.
Game two will be in Boston on May 29 with puck drop scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.