Bruins' struggles at home proved costly in Stanley Cup Final loss to Blues

Bruins' struggles at home proved costly in Stanley Cup Final loss to Blues

BOSTON --  The Boston Bruins technically had home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final, but playing at TD Garden was anything but an advantage for the Original Six club.

The Bruins lost 4-1 on home ice to the Blues in Game 7 on Wednesday night  -- a heartbreaking finale to a playoff run that should've ended with the franchise's seventh championship. The loss was Boston's third at TD Garden in the Cup Final, and the Bruins are the first team to lose three times on home ice in a Cup Final since the 2000 Dallas Stars, who fell to the New Jersey Devils in six games.

"I think you're playing in the Stanley Cup, in the playoffs, in the finals and there's always pressure," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. "I don't think it matters to us that we're at home. It definitely didn't look like it. We played a good first period, but when you're down 2-0, you try, you try, you try and nothing goes through, then, it's -- what can you do? That's how it goes sometimes. I don't think it was pressure."

Pressure or not, the Bruins couldn't generate much offense against the Blues during even strength action in the four matchups at TD Garden.

They were outscored 11-6 at even strength, including a 6-1 advantage for the Blues in Game 5 and Game 7 combined. Boston's power play was red-hot at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, where the unit scored five times on 10 scoring chances and 16 shot attempts. In Boston, the power play scored only twice despite tallying 42 shot attempts and 22 scoring chances. The Bruins did not score on any of their four power-play opportunities in Game 5 and Game 7 combined.

The Blues also deserve a lot of credit for their performance on the road this series. This type of success for the Blues was not exclusive to the Cup Final. St. Louis finishes the playoffs with a 10-3 road record, tying the NHL record for the most road victories in one postseason run. They also are the fifth team ever to win a Stanley Cup on the road in Game 7. 

Playing at home is supposed to be a plus. You have all the advantages of feeding off the energy from your fans, sleeping in your own bed, a familiar pre-game routine, the luxury of the last line change for matchup purposes, among other benefits.

The Bruins got a tremendous early lift from the crowd in Game 5 and Game 7 but couldn't bury any of their many first-period scoring chances. This failure allowed the Blues to weather the early storms, settle in and take control of the pace and scoreboard.

"We were pretty excited to play here," Bruins forward Charlie Coyle said. "It's Game 7, play at home. I just wish we -- I don't know. I wish it was a different result, obviously, but we can't draw it up any better than a Game 7 in this building and being the home team, getting that opportunity."

It was a glorious opportunity that the Bruins wasted, and one that's going to sting for a very long time, especially when two of the last three Stanley Cup Final games were played in a building where they dominated throughout the 2018-19 season.

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David Krejci forced to exit Bruins win with injury

David Krejci forced to exit Bruins win with injury

BOSTON – David Krejci made it through a few games without incident after a lower-body injury kept him out of the season opener, but had to leave Monday afternoon’s matinee midway through the game with something that’s assumed to be related to the same injury.

Krejci exited the first period early and then made it through two more shifts in the second period before exiting entirely in Boston’s 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. There was no real update following the Bruins win, so it’s unknown if the playmaking center is going to be able to suit up for Thursday night’s big game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Obviously, he left [the game]. He tried to play through it, but didn’t come back. We’ll see how he is. [Tuesday]  is an off day, so Wednesday we’ll have a better idea. How did we play through it? We had to use other people, obviously, more.

“We put [Joakim] Nordstrom in the middle in the third. We put [Chris] Wagner in the middle a couple of times, so good to have those guys that can move around. I tried to get Charlie Coyle extra minutes. Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron] always going to play his minutes, and I’m willing to bet that [Sean] Kuraly’s minutes are up too. That’s what happens. You’ve got to plug someone in there. I thought they did a good job going in there. We moved some people around and at the end of the day got through it, and hopefully Krech is good to go against Tampa.”

If Krejci can’t play on Thursday then the Bruins would likely go with Par Lindholm centering the second line as he did in the first two games of the season. The biggest concern, obviously, is if the injury to Krejci is going to be something that’s going to hamper him for a long period of time. Krejci has one assist in four games while averaging 17:01 of ice time since coming back from injury, and was just beginning to round into form after getting pretty much zero game action in the preseason. 

Krejci played 81 games last season in an impressive show of good health, but it looks like all those games played last season might just be taking a toll on him this season already. 

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks

Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 4-2 win over the Ducks Monday afternoon to win their fifth game in six tries to open the 2019-20 season. 

GOLD STAR: Who else but David Pastrnak? Pastrnak scored four goals for the first time in his NHL career and joined a pretty elite Bruins club that also includes Patrice Bergeron, who did it a couple of seasons ago. Pastrnak now has six goals on the season after his four-score outburst on Monday afternoon, and is in the middle of a Bruins Perfection Line that is humming on all cylinders right now after needing a game or two to get going this season. The four-goal game and the six goals in six games once again raises the question of whether Pastrnak is ever going to be able to score 50 goals in a season, and it’s something he certainly has a chance at if he can remain healthy. In this game, Pastrnak scored in all kinds of different wants including a PP strike on a one-timer from the circle, a finished goal on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush and a redirection while paying the price in front of the net.

BLACK EYE: Troy Terry was a hotshot college hockey prospect when he came on the scene a couple of years ago after starring with Ryan Donato in the Olympics. But he’s off to a brutal start this season with zero points in six games, and had no shots on net with a minus-2 rating in 16:39 of ice time for the Ducks in Monday night’s loss. He certainly looks like his confidence is low right now for a Ducks team that’s scraping and scrimping for offense, and that was reflected in what we saw on the ice. Man, if the Ducks didn’t have Rickard Rakell they would be a seriously anemic offensive team. It will be part of the growing pains for Anaheim to see if guys like Terry are going to be a part of the long term solution, and it sure hasn’t looked that way in the early going this year.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins, it was getting their second goal of the game in the second period after largely getting outplayed by the Ducks while getting outshot 16-6 and hanging onto a slim 1-0 lead. The Bruins killed off a couple of Ducks power plays and then they scored on a 2-on-1 with Brad Marchand feeding David Pastrnak just as an Anaheim power play had ended. The goal gave the Bruins a little bit of breathing room and set them up for a third period where a couple more Pastrnak goals allowed them to pull away in the game.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jaroslav Halak and the Bruins goaltending continues to be a big story of success for the Bruins. Halak wasn’t perfect as he allowed two goals during the game, but he was pretty darn close in the second period when he stopped 15-of-16 shots as the Ducks clearly outplayed the Bruins in the middle 20 minutes. Halak stopped a couple of odd-man, 3-on-1 rushes during that period of time and allowed the Bruins to get their stuff back in order, which they did when they scored to make it a 2-1 game late in the second period. Both Halak and Rask have been among the league’s best goalies to start the season for the Bruins and it’s making a major difference for them.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 – the number of goals for David Pastrnak, which also gives the Bruins Perfection Line 11 of the last 14 goals scored by the B’s overall in their last five games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “What’s on the forefront of my mind is more the other guys, what could we do to help them get going? And what can they do themselves to help themselves? So that, as a coach, is what I’m thinking about. I’m happy [the top line] is on, they’re going, the power play units found their mojo again, so that’s good. But my mind’s more on the other group. How can we help them out? We’ll keep looking at it.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the top-heavy nature of the Bruins offense right now relying on their top guys and top PP unit to score.

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