After game four’s 4-2 Blues victory, Bruce Cassidy didn’t seem as assured about his team as he did post-game three. He didn’t seem as generous to the motivations of the refs, either.
“I found it interesting, I fully expect, you have the best refs and you go through the process. I would expect they wouldn’t get baited into somebody’s comments,” Cassidy told reports. “They should be better that. If they did, I certainly didn’t expect them to. They should have a degree of professionalism. Call the calls that they see.
“There are always some that get let go either way that they could have called either way. It’s hard to nitpick through every one. That’s my thought on that. At the end of the day, we didn’t play well enough to win. We know that.”
What prompted Cassidy’s shift in tune? Perhaps it was a 4-2 victory by the Blues in which St. Louis didn’t give up a single power play goal, just a shorthanded one. The Blues only got whistled down for two penalties, and they killed them both.
The Blues also changed game three’s trend of having a poor showing in the face-off circle. Monday night, the Blues flipped the script, winning 52% in the dot to the Bruins’ 48%. Both teams cracked 40 hits (the Blues with a slight margin, 44 to 41), and the Bruins had an impressive 15 blocks.
This is a tough, physical series that is just getting harder. The momentum, for now at least, is back on the Blues’ side. Zdeno Chara is probably out with a broken jaw (“uncertain” seems generous, to be honest), and Matt Grzelcyk practiced yesterday in a red no-contact jersey, so it remains to be seen if he’s fine for tonight. Coach Cassidy seems concerned about how physical a Stanley Cup Final series has been getting, but it appears that he needs to be significantly more concerned with how his top six is incapable of performing at even strength.
The Blues have the Bruins rattled, but it’s the B’s own problem. David Backes only played 9:09 in game four. if Chara is out, then the Blues’ former captain needs to dig down deep in the ol’ leadership vault and come out strong for the Bruins.
Hopefully Backes’ version of leadership is what the Blues’ current captain called him to task for in game two:
And in game four:
Perhaps the key to the game tonight is to not give the Bruins a short handed goal opportunity, since they tend to play the big guns on the PK, too. Brandon Carlo’s short handed goal got assists from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. If the Blues can just stay five-on-five for the whole game, they have a winner on their hands.
Speaking of limiting ice time, after game four the Blues’ defense looked like this:
Guess who Robert Bortuzzo is replacing tonight! Bort has been pretty consistently good this postseason, with a goal and an assist in the Blues’ game two victory over the Bruins, but played only 9:09 in game three.
If the Blues can manage a focused game like they did on Monday night, with prime five on five play and as few penalties as possible, there’s a reason for Blues fans to have faith. In all of the playoffs, in games five through seven in every series, the Blues are 6-1, with their only loss coming in game five to the Dallas Stars.
If they win tonight in Boston against a depleted Bruins team, the Stanley Cup will be in St. Louis for game six.