Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is tonight as the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins play in St. Louis once more. Saturday night’s game saw Boston unleash a barrage of shots and goals early on the Blues and they could not recover. The result was a 7-2 loss that left St. Louis and their fans scratching their heads in disbelief.
Our series preview is right here.
Jordan Binnington endured a rough night made worse by Boston again cashing in on the power play. In all, the Bruins would score four times in four attempts. The St. Louis goalie was visibly agitated during a first period TV timeout. He could be heard spewing profanities and banging his stick. Boston, like Dallas before, had gotten to Binnington.
Tuukka Rask stopped 27 of 29 shots as he enjoyed another game where his save percentage was .900 or above. His consistency in these playoffs has been a huge comfort to Boston even when they have not fared so well.
With the way Binnington is playing, he may see a few more slot shots in Game 4 as Boston figures if it is not broke, why try to do anything different. Boston’s idea of going for quality over quantity could pay dividends once more.
Shots and chances expect to be close to even on Monday night. Score effects helped that in Game 3, and it is possible they could again for Game 4. St. Louis must get off to a better start as far as generating opportunities and more quality scoring chances. Anything less is a recipe for disaster.
Strength vs Strength
Finally, Boston saw production from its top line. Patrice Bergeron had three points with David Pastrnak chipping in a goal and Brad Marchand an assist. Also, Torey Krug piled on four points (goal, three assists) in the road laugher.
One of the biggest problems Boston will have in Game 4 is trying to sustain Game 3’s brilliant game plan. Some will argue that Boston rode their power play and did little else. That is not true. The Bruins were able to draw penalties because St. Louis could not even complete the simplest of passes in any zone. It is hard to break out when passes are so disjointed, and turnovers are that frequent.
At 5 on 5, Natural Stats Trick captured it best. Boston pummeled St. Louis in the first 20 minutes and that deficit of three goals was just too big to overcome. Their expected goals for was 1.11 to the Blues’ paltry 0.25. St. Louis played better at even strength as the game went on but remember the third period featured less than ten minutes of 5 on 5 time.
It was not just the Bergeron line which excelled in Game 3. The fourth line again provided a multiple point effort behind Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom. Also, Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle clicked again for several opportunities. They both had a goal and assist in the rout. It was the Blues who looked more one dimensional as opposed to the efficient Bruins.
Game 2 Betting Picks:
St. Louis must stay out of the penalty box as Boston is 6 for 14 in this series on the power play. Also, they can dominate long stretches of 5 on 5 play with their balance and ability to roll their speed out more effectively than Boston.
St. Louis almost seems pre-destined to play this back and forth brand of hockey where the goals come every other game. The first ten minutes must be like games 1 and 2 for the Blues or this series tilts Boston’s way. Oskar Sundqvist’s return from suspension should help but the Blues must draw penalties or hem Boston in their own zone early.
Will Vladimir Tarasenko start scoring? He had six shots on net and four scoring chances in Game 3. It may be just a matter of time for that part of the St. Louis offense. Watch for Colton Parayko along with Schwartz and Schenn as well.
1u – STL Blues MoneyLine @ -111
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +120
By Chris Wassel