Stanley Cup Final: Stunning numbers for Blues, Bruins
Throughout the season we have been taking an occasional look at some stunning numbers from around the NHL.
Today, we take a look at some stunning numbers for the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins as they enter the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
This week’s numbers include Jaden Schwartz’s incredible postseason run and the Bruins’ historic power play performance.
Boston’s power play is scoring at an all-time great level
The Bruins had an outstanding power play during the regular season with potentially critical flaw -- they kept giving up shorthanded goals at an alarming rate. Through the first three rounds of the playoffs that unit has continued to excel and has also cut down on the shorthanded goal problem, allowing just one in their first 17 playoff games.
The important number here, though, is 34 percent. That is the success rate for the Bruins through the first three rounds of the playoffs and puts them in some truly elite company. The NHL has power play data tracked as far back as the 1933-34 season and among teams that have played in at least 10 playoff games in a single postseason, only three teams have converted at a higher rate: The 1980-81 New York Islanders, the 2011-12 Philadelphia Flyers, and the 2017-18 Bruins. If you dig deeper and limit it to teams that have played in at least 15 playoff games, that Islanders team (37 percent) is the only one with a better power play and the only other one to exceed the 30 percent mark. It is an interesting contract for the Bruins when compared to the 2010-11 championship team that won the Stanley Cup despite an almost impossibly bad power play that converted on just 11.4 percent of its chances, one of the worst ever marks for a team with at least 15 playoff games.
Leading the way for the Bruins power play this postseason is Patrice Bergeron who enters this series having already scored a league-leading six power play goals. Before this season he had scored just seven power play goals in the playoffs in 112 career postseason games.
Tale of two seasons for Jaden Schwartz
With his 12 goals in the playoffs, a performance that has made him a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, Schwartz has already eclipsed his total from the regular season (11 goals). According to the NHL, he is just the third player in NHL history to score at least 10 goals during the regular season and exceed that total in the playoffs following that season. The other two were Marian Gaborik during the 2013-14 season (11 regular season goals and 14 playoff goals) and Claude Lemieux during the 1996-97 season (11 regular season goals and 13 playoff goals). As the NHL noted, Lemieux (45 games) and Gaborik (41 games) both player significantly fewer regular season games than Schwartz’s 69 games.
Former Washington Capitals forward John Druce nearly made this list after scoring eight goals during the 1988-89 season (in 45 games) then following it up with 14 goals in 15 playoff games, a franchise record that stood until Alex Ovechkin broke it this past season on their way to a Stanley Cup win.
[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Another close matchup in the Stanley Cup Final
The Blues and Bruins have been two of the best teams in the NHL since January 1, nearly mirroring each other in their overall performances over the second half as the table below illustrates.
(All data via Natural Stat Trick.)
Their overall regular season place in the standings were also extremely close.
According to the NHL, this is the fifth time since 2014 the two Stanley Cup Finalists were separated by eight points or less in the standings, with the 2017 matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators being the one exception during that stretch.
Even with the slim gap between the two teams, the NHL also notes that the Blues are just the 10th team to ever make the Stanley Cup Final after ranking 12th or lower in the overall league standings during the regular season and the sixth since 2006. The biggest reason they finished so low in the standings, of course, is their slow start that was driven mostly by their problem spot in net.
Jay Bouwmeester’s long wait
The Blues defender will be playing in his first ever Stanley Cup Final game on Monday night. He will be making his first ever appearance in the series after playing in 1,184 regular season games. Only seven player have waited longer.
Most regular season games before first #StanleyCup Final:— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 26, 2019
Dave Andreychuk (1,597)
Patrick Marleau (1,411)
Joe Thornton (1,367)
Dale Hunter (1,345)
Pat Verbeek (1,225)
Steve Thomas (1,191)
Dale Hawerchuk (1,188)
Jay Bouwmeester (1,184)#NHLStats pic.twitter.com/wKeM5A821W
Tuukka Rask chasing history
Rask has been the star of the playoffs for the Bruins and has emerged as the Conn Smythe favorite. He enters the series with a .942 percentage and is one of just five goals in league history to have a save percentage of .940 or better through his first 17 games in a single postseason. He is also just three wins away from tying Gerry Cheevers for first place on the Bruins’ all-time postseason wins list with 50. If the Bruins win the Stanley Cup (and assuming Rask gets the win in all four games) he would take over the franchise lead.
STANLEY CUP FINAL PREVIEW
• Who has the better forwards?
• Who has the better defensemen?
• Who has the better goaltending?
• Who has the better special teams?
• PHT Power Rankings: Conn Smythe favorites
• Roundtable: Secondary scoring, underrated players
• How the Blues were built
• How the Bruins were built
• Stanley Cup Final 2019 schedule, TV info