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Hockey Daily Dose

Stanley Cup Final: Game 7 Preview

by Corey Abbott

The Boston Bruins will host the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.  This will mark the 17th time that the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the seventh game of a series since the NHL started using the best-of-seven format.  The Blues failed to close out the Bruins in Game 6 on home ice and will be looking to bounce back on the road.  The home team has won just two times in the series, with each team winning once.  St. Louis has been great on the road in the playoffs, which should give them plenty of confidence going into Wednesday's contest.  Boston will look to lean on their experience to claim the championship.

You can watch the game on nbcsports.com or on the NBC Sports app here.

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Boston’s offense returned in Game 6

The Bruins had a strong third period in Game 6 with four goals in a 5-1 win over the Blues.  David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand recorded one goal and one assist apiece in the contest.  Boston was held to just three goals in Games 4 and 5 after scoring seven in Game 3.  The team had been looking for more from the second line and they finally delivered on Sunday.  David Krejci finally got his first point of the Stanley Cup Final, with an assist, and Karson Kuhlman scored his first playoff goal in his first appearance since Apr. 30 back in Round 2 against Columbus.  Jake DeBrusk has started to heat up with one goal and three helpers in his last five outings.  

Blues need more from top guns not named O’Reilly

Speaking of players getting hot, Ryan O'Reilly has been surging offensively for the Blues with four goals and three assists during a five-game point streak.  He has found the back of the net four times in the last three matches following an eight-game goalless drought.  Alex Pietrangelo has been productive as well with four assists during a three-game point spree.  However, St. Louis needs more from Jaden Schwartz, who hasn’t picked up a point in the past four contests, and Vladimir Tarasenko, who has been held off the scoresheet in three of the last four matches.

Goaltending matchup

Tuukka Rask’s play this postseason arguably makes him a worthy recipient of a Conn Smythe Trophy whether Boston wins or losses.  Rask has posted a 1.93 goals-against average, a .938 save percentage and two shutouts over 23 starts in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  He also has a mark of 5-0 with a .973 save percentage in elimination games during this postseason. Jordan Binnington should be in the Conn Smythe conversation as well after backstopping the Blues on an incredible run.  The 25-year-old rookie has a 2.52 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage and one shutout in 25 appearances this postseason.  Binnington has also been incredibly resilient with a 7-2 record and a 1.83 goals-against average following after a loss during the playoffs.

Special teams

The power play of the St. Louis Blues has been ice cold in the Stanley Cup Final, while going 1-for-18.  The Blues generated 12 shots with the man advantage in Game 6, but they went 0-for-4.  Boston has scored seven power-play goals on 23 opportunities in the series.  The Blues have amassed a league-leading 783 hits in the postseason.  St. Louis wants to play physical, but they have to be smart about it.  Two players on the Blues have been suspended during the Stanley Cup Final and the Bruins have been lethal on the power play this postseason with a league-best 32.9 success percentage.  

Get on the board first

Scoring the first goal has been huge for both teams during their playoff runs.  Boston has 13 wins when they get the opening goal of the game, while St. Louis has 12 victories when they have scored first during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Bruins also have nine wins when leading after the first period compared to two losses when trailing after the first frame. The Blues have seven wins when leading after the first and seven defeats when trailing after the first.    

Lineup notes

Matt Grzelcyk’s status remains in doubt.  Grzelcyk was on the ice Tuesday, but he was sporting a no-contact jersey.  He still hasn’t been cleared to return and he has been in concussion protocol since Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.  Chris Wagner skated in a regular jersey, but he appeared to be an extra along with David Backes.  St. Louis will get Ivan Barbashev back from a one-game suspension for Game 7.  He was punished for an illegal check to the head on Boston’s Marcus Johansson.  Barbashev may replace Sammy Blais in the lineup for Game 7 if Robert Thomas, who returned to action in Game 6 from a suspected wrist injury, is able to play again.  If Thomas sits then Blais and Barbashev should be expected to dress.    

With that in mind, these are the projected lineups for Game 7.  Just keep in mind that they are subject to change:

Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak

St. Louis Blues

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko
Zach Sanford - Ryan O'Reilly - David Perron
Pat Maroon - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas
Ivan Barbashev - Oskar Sundqvist - Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington
Jake Allen

Who wins?

Going into the series, seven of 10 Rotoworld writers surprisingly selected the Blues to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in the franchise’s history.  Four writers picked the series to go seven games, with two choosing the Boston and two predicting the Blues.  You can revisit our thoughts here.  

Corey Abbott

Corey Abbott is an Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @CoreAbbott.