BRIGHTON, Mass. – Bruce Cassidy said when he looks in the hockey mirror, he sees the B’s Stanley Cup Final opponent looking back at him.
The Bruins head coach called the St. Louis Blues, who closed out the San Jose Sharks in six games on Tuesday night, their “twin” and thinks there are plenty of similarities between the two hockey clubs now preparing for Game 1 on Monday night at TD Garden. While the season trajectories were certainly a little different with the Blues in last place in their division as late as January during the regular season, the roster makeup and the style of play certainly do seem similar with physicality and skill present in equal parts, along with strong goaltending.
“I think they’re very similar to us in the way that they play. They’re a fore-checking team that plays North/South and they use all four lines. Their fourth line in particular gets a lot of assignments like ours. Goaltenders are both playing excellent,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Their D is bigger than ours, but both can move the puck. I expect the games will be probably lower-scoring, more physical. I think they’re a bit of our ‘twin’ so to speak with the way they balance their minutes. They might have a guy that plays a few more — Pietrangelo — on average than us in terms of time on ice, but I think I see a lot of similarities.”
The Blues have their top-end offensive talent with guys like Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, they’ve got their two-way center in Ryan O’Reilly and they’ve got some big-name defensemen with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko leading the way. So there are certainly plenty of similarities between the two clubs, who have historically played heavy, low-scoring games against each other in their non-conference meetings over the years.
Clearly the Bruins were a little more accomplished during the regular season with 107 points to the 99 that St. Louis accumulated. And the Blues were middle of the road offensively with 2.98 goals per game during the season, but top-10 in the other major categories, showing very few glaring weaknesses in their lineup once rookie Jordan Binnington took over between the pipes midway through the year.
Cassidy also mentioned the invented word “Columbus-ish” when describing the size, physicality and attitude that St. Louis brings to the table.
So what does it all mean?
One can expect an entertaining, hard-nosed Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues that will live up to the historical significance from the last time these two franchises met in the Final when Bobby Orr went flying through the air.
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