There are a few reasons why the Boston Bruins, despite having more talent and depth than the St. Louis Blues, still lost the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in seven games. Perhaps the most glaring issue for the B's was their struggles at 5-on-5.
The Bruins lost the 5-on-5 battle and it proved costly. So, let's break down some of the numbers.
We'll start with the most important one: goals scored. The Blues had a 15-10 edge in goals scored during the 337:11 of 5-on-5 ice time through seven games. St. Louis had a 7-4 edge in 5-on-5 goals in the last three games, including a 6-2 advantage in Game 5 and Game 7 in Boston combined. The Bruins were a very good 5-on-5 goal-scoring team in the first three rounds, earning a 32-23 advantage over their opponents and a 58.18 goals for percentage. The B's had a 40.00 goals for percentage in the Cup Final.
Scoring chances were another area where the Bruins got worse in the Cup Final compared to the previous three rounds. Boston had a 50.88 scoring chances percentage at 5-on-5 through the Eastern Conference Final, compared with a 49.20 scoring chance percentage against the Blues. The total count was 127-123 in favor of St. Louis in 5-on-5 scoring chances. The Blues also held a 48-44 edge in high-danger scoring chances created during 5-on-5 play versus the B's, as well as a 9-4 edge in goals scored on those high-danger chances.
Goaltending at 5-on-5 also was an issue for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask gave up 15 goals on 143 shots for an .895 5-on-5 save percentage. He allowed nine goals on 39 high-danger shots for a .769 save percentage. Rask posted an excellent .946 save percentage at 5-on-5 through the first three rounds and a high-danger save percentage of .918 over the same span. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington had a .939 save percentage at 5-on-5 (10 goals allowed on 164 shots) in the Cup Final, as well as a .882 high-danger save percentage (four goals allowed on 34 shots).
The Bruins probably wouldn't have made it to a Game 7 without their power play. The unit was a bit inconsistent, but the B's did have a 7-1 edge in power play goals in the series, and four of them came in their 7-2 victory in Game 3. Boston's penalty kill was excellent.
The Blues were outscored 22-18 in the series overall, but they won the 5-on-5 battle, and when most of the series obviously is played 5-on-5, it's not hard to figure out why they left Boston with the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night.
*All 5-on-5 stats found on Natural Stat Trick
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