NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Stanley Cup Final Preview
Brett Talley breaks down the Stanley Cup Final featuring the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins.
The Stanley Cup Finals between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins begin tonight in Boston. The Bruins are -160 favorites in the series with the Blues being +140 underdogs.
As we have previewed each of the last two rounds, we’ve started with the narrative surrounding the Blues potentially going worst to first. It’s been well covered at this point, but it’s still shocking that St. Louis was dead last in the league on January 2 and is now in the Cup finals. The next paragraph was in our Western Conference Finals preview piece and outlines the St. Louis turnaround.
From February 2 to the end of the regular season St. Louis was dominant. At 5v5 (score and venue adjusted) they were sixth in the league in CF% (Corsi For percentage) and second in the league (and first in the West) in percentage of the high danger scoring chances generated in their games (HDCF%). Said another way, they generated the fourth most high danger chances and allowed the seventh fewest.
Though the Blues may have been the hottest team in the league in that time frame, the Bruins were an excellent team as well down the stretch. Boston was third in the league in 5v5 CF% from February 2 on and 11th in HDCF%. In the playoffs, both teams have generated a higher share of the shot attempts at even strength than their opponents with Boston ranking sixth and St. Louis eighth in CF%. However, the Blues have not been generating more high danger chances than their opponents, and the Bruins rank fourth in the playoffs in HDCF%.
This will be the second round in a row where the Blues are running into a team that somewhat matched their level of play down the stretch. The Sharks had a group of skaters that was every bit St. Louis’ equal if not better. Unfortunately for San Jose, they decided to roll through the postseason with Martin Jones who was one of the worst goalies in the league. As a result, St. Louis averaged 3.8 goals per game in the conference finals and eliminated the Sharks in six. They will not have such an easy matchup in the opposing net this round as Tuukka Rask was an above average goaltender in the regular season and has a spectacular .946 SV% in the playoffs.
On special teams the Bruins have a slight advantage. The Blues were better on the penalty kill, but the Bruins ultimately have the advantage because of how lethal their power play is. The B’s were third in PP% in the regular season at 25.9 percent, and they have 17 power play goals in 17 postseason games. Boston’s PP%+PK+ was third in the league during the regular season, and St. Louis finished ninth in that stat.
If you’re playing single-game DFS slates, things revolve around Boston’s elite top line. If rostering Blues, you’d prefer to pick Blues who won’t be on the ice as much with Patrice Bergeron’s line. When the series is in Boston, they will match up with St. Louis’ top line. At practice yesterday, St. Louis’ top line was Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. When the series shifts to St. Louis, Schenn’s line should again see plenty of the Bergeron line, but they’ll be more playable in DFS in home games as the Blues will have the ability to get that line softer matchups if they’re looking to generate offense.
In games in Boston, the pair of Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron should largely avoid the Bergeron line at even, and they could end up seeing that matchup more in home games. St. Louis’ third line has been good this postseason, and Tyler Bozak and Pat Maroon see power play work, so that line could potentially provide salary relief in single-game DFS contests. Colton Parayko has been seeing heavy power play usage for St. Louis in the playoffs, so he’s another name to consider.
Aside from Boston’s top line, Torey Krug is another premium Boston option as he joins the top line on the top PP unit. With David Krejci missing a few practices with an illness entering the Finals, the third line of Charlie Coyle, Marcus Johansson and Danton Heinen is Boston’s best secondary option.
The pick: Boston in 6.