Bruins have edge in Stanley Cup Final

May 22, 2019 3:00 AM

The Boston Bruins seek to join the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings as multiple champions this decade when the Stanley Cup Final opens Monday at TD Garden in Boston.

The Bruins’ opponent had yet to be determined at press time Tuesday. St. Louis led the Western Conference Final over San Jose, 3-2, in the battle for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

If it’s the Blues, it will be their first appearance in the title series since their first three years of existence as an NHL franchise, going 0-12 in consecutive sweeps by Montreal (twice) and Boston. The Bruins won on the famous Bobby Orr “Superman” overtime goal 49 years ago.

Should the Sharks overcome age, fatigue and emotional dejection to advance, San Jose forward “Jumbo” Joe Thornton gains an opportunity to face the club that first made him an NHL All-Star.

However, injuries (or re-injuries) to Erik Karlsson (groin), Joonas Donskoi (puck to face), Tomas Hertl and captain Joe Pavelski (possible concussions) make a rally highly unlikely. The Game 1 move by Blues head coach Craig Berube to go physical paid dividends late in the series, especially with limited penalty calls in the unfortunate “Year of the Referee” with a series of blatantly incorrect calls in the playoffs.

However, does it really matter which club comes out of the West? From a wagering point of view, tempo should dictate your choice.

If you like St. Louis’ “rope-a-dope” style, sitting back patiently waiting to force turnovers, betting the total to the under is the way to go. Maybe, a Blues/Under parlay might be appropriate, especially if you can find a “60 minutes-only” line and not allow overtime to hinder your action.

However, Carolina tried to play a similar style against Boston, yet the Bruins have all four lines clicking with goal production. Thus, a B’s/Over parlay might be a way to counter the amount of chalk you need to lay when the opening two games are contested in Massachusetts.

For now, avoid the Boston/over scenario. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask might be the frontrunner for the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs. Should that come to fruition, expect a series of low-scoring games when coupled with the solid play of Blues goaltender Jordan Biddington.

Another Bruins (despite a salary cap-era record 11 days off) advantage is their depth. San Jose needed to shorten its bench with few quality replacements available, leading to the overuse of Karlsson and Brent Burns.

Boston players that were once playing defense mainly for the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence have aided the playoff effort. It’s called “fresh legs,” even while Zdeno Chara nurses a foot injury.

Frankly, when Boston’s defensive starters were hurt while Tampa Bay catapulted to a fast start in October and November, head coach Bruce Cassidy was simply preparing his club for a playoff push against Toronto, then see what happens.

Now they’re in the Stanley Cup Final. Sorry, Leafs fans; Vegas wonders “what if,” too.

Kakko No. 1?

Finland’s Kaapo Kakko believes he could be the 1st overall pick over Jack Hughes by New Jersey when the NHL Draft is held June 21-22. They are the consensus 1-2 choices.

The New York Rangers have the second pick.

Kakko was tied for the goal-scoring lead at the IIHF World Championships after setting a U18 record of 22 goals in Finland’s pro league during this past season. Hughes broke the record of Auston Matthews with 228 career points playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program. Matthews had 167.

The draft will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Cup Final picks

For the Final, I’m picking Boston to hoist the Cup. For Game 1 Monday, whether it’s St. Louis or San Jose as the opponent, I like the Bruins. But there may be better value in what should be a low-scoring game. UNDER.

Last week: 2-0

Season: 53-66

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