It all comes down to this.... Here are Today’s NHL Picks!:
Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins play in Boston. Both teams have a chance to win the most cherished trophy in sports at home. Now, Boston erupted for four third-period goals during a 5-1 win in St. Louis on Sunday night that left many speechless.
Now, let’s look at the goalies.
Jordan Binnington was the victim of a game-changing knuckle puck goal. Sometimes throwing the puck on net is the best strategy and a few bad bounces can effectively end a contest. That is just what happened on Sunday night. From there, the St. Louis goalie would allow a couple more goals on a night where it all fell apart in about 20 minutes.
Tuukka Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots as he enjoyed yet another game where his save percentage was .900 or above. His play has been very good to elite all playoffs long. Rarely has he ever wavered and that is what one wants going into a Game 7.
With the way Binnington is playing, he may need to get in a rhythm early. It seemed Boston went long stretches without sustained offense then suddenly would find a pulse. This seemed to throw St. Louis off. As for Rask, he was seeing the puck extremely well all night. The same could not be said for Jordan Binnington. Rask’s experience gives him an edge going into Wednesday night’s Game 7.
Shots and chances expect to be a bit more even with so much on the line. St. Louis has shown time and time it can bounce back (especially Binnington).
Strength vs Strength:
Once again, Ryan O’Reilly was clutch with a goal and several scoring chances in Game 6. However, it was far from enough as Boston’s top line finally showed up with a goal in the third period that took any life out of St. Louis it had left. The fourth goal just minutes after Ryan O’Reilly cut the deficit to two ensured a Game 7 would occur. More significantly, it showed Boston’s top line a blueprint to attack what had been St. Louis’s best defensive line of this round.
One of the aspects that helped Boston was playing the 12F-6D strategy. This allowed Karson Kuhlman to draw into the lineup. Kuhlman scored a goal in the third period and was all over the ice. This lent more balance into a Boston forward core that sorely needed it again.
At 5 on 5, Boston set a hellish pace and probably should have potted more than one goal early. St. Louis sputtered after the first ten minutes spending the next 30 minutes wandering through the wilderness looking for their offense. Boston’s team defense was relentless, especially in the second period, where the Blues generated little, if anything. Expected goals for were 1.68 to 1.17 at even-strength for Boston.
It was strange that the top Boston line had less opportunities than in Game 5 but more quality which led to the even strength tally. Every so often David Pastrnak and even Brad Marchand were double shifted. That is a strategy which should continue in Game 7 to catch St. Louis off guard. Again, Boston’s forward balance is superior to St. Louis’s.
There is one more aspect which cannot get overlooked. Special teams again became an issue as Boston scored on one of their few opportunities while St. Louis had another bagel of a night. St. Louis has just one power-play goal the entire series while Boston has seven.
Game 7 Betting Picks:
Boston has been here before. They came back against Toronto and played in the last Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in 2011. Then, the Bruins defeated Vancouver in Vancouver. The key to Game 7 is obviously who scores first. Boston is 13-3 when they tally the first goal in these playoffs. Ivan Barbashev returns after missing a game due to a suspension stemming from a hit to Marcus Johansson in Game 5.
Can Boston execute early at home? Since Game 1, that has been an issue. It is funny that in this series, the road team has been more clutch than the home one. Then again, early in these playoffs, St. Louis enjoyed a stellar run away from home (8-9 at home). The first ten minutes again plays a vital role as it has in every game this series. Boston must execute while St. Louis must survive or get a lucky bounce.
We’re going to be taking Boston and the Under here in what’ll likely be a Game 7 to remember.
1u – BOS Bruins MoneyLine @ -160
1u – Under 5.5 total goals @ -145
By Chris Wassel