Bruins shake off rust in Stanley Cup Final Game 1 win

May 29, 2019 3:01 AM

Ten parades over 15 seasons.

Should the balance of the Stanley Cup Final be anything like Monday’s opener, the City of Boston will soon be preparing for an 11th public trophy procession.

Despite St. Louis’ first SCF goal in 17,914 games, the Bruins domination of the Blues was as easy as 1-2-3-4 ... as in the strong play of the B’s fourth line.

Despite trailing after the first period for the first time since Game 3 of the Columbus series — that was a month ago on April 30 — once Boston shook off the rust of an 11-day hiatus, Boston was clearly the better side.

And there was no minutiae here. The Bruins neutralized the St. Louis forecheck, they erased the stretch pass, and they drew penalties without retaliation.

Meanwhile at one point. all 12 Blues forwards went 23 minutes without a shot at one point, with the streak ending on a Patrick Maroon shot from outside the blue line.

But what does this mean from a betting prospective?

Although the Bruins won Game 1 of the Final on home ice for the first time since 1974 — they eventually lost to Philadelphia — the current club still has only split their first two home games in both the Toronto and Columbus series.

Considering how St. Louis missed several opportunities in mounting a 2-0 lead through the opening minute of the second period, some adjustments by head coach Craig “Chief” Berube could get them back into the series with a road split.

Thus, if you still like St. Louis, expect a series price of at least +200 as a smart way to wager.

What will Berube tell them? Be more disciplined, especially on taking penalties in their offenside zone or neutral ice.

If you thought the momentum turned because of the referees — where have I heard that one before? — a Blues bounce-back wouldn’t be a surprise.

Why St. Louis?

The Blues’ first goal by Brayden Schenn came in a 5-on-5 situation. As the series progresses and the refs do put the whistle away, St. Louis can feel comfortable knowing they can play with the Bruins in this situation.

Vladimir Tarasenko, who I ripped in this column two weeks ago, then started to score. His second-period goal gave him nine points in his last seven postseason contests.

In addition, Boston’s first two goals were by defensemen, then the third goal was tallied by the fourth line.

Sean Kuraly, the “Kid from Ohio” as the broadcasters call him — he’s from Dublin, Ohio, just 16 miles from Columbus — helped eliminate his hometown Blue Jackets, with his line getting as many minutes as each of the other lines.

This is an indication of the Bruins’ depth, or St. Louis only needs to adjust its pairings to get back into the series.

Why Boston?

At this time of the season, it makes me nervous when coaches start juggling line combinations. So when Berube moved Tarasenko off the Schenn line in the third period, it makes me wonder about their confidence level.

The Bruins defense, led by Torey Krug — the best defensive defenseman of the playoffs — jumped all over St. Louis’ beloved stretch pass, which worked against a hobbled San Jose defense, but not against Boston.

Plus, the Bruins are playing old-time, physical hockey. It was a reason why I faded St, Louis in this column in March when the then-first place Blues were playing a physical style not conducive to their personnel on the ice.

So Boston engages its checking game. The Blues rant and shout at the refs instead of keeping their focus on the game.

No wonder the B’s closed with four unanswered goals. No wonder St. Louis is 0-13 in SCF contests.

Oh, did I mention goalie Tuukka Rask, the likely winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy — he’s now the odds-on favorite.

Other bets

Total players also need to look at the Under, especially when the series shifts to Missouri for the weekend. St. Louis simply plays low-scoring games at home, and when combined with the heat and humidity in the Midwest, poor ice conditions also indicated a play to the under.

St. Louis was outscoring its opponents, 15-3, on the road in the third period until the Bruins got them 2-0. If you still like the Blues, the time they will win the game in in the third period, so taking them as the side in the final 20 minutes (where available) makes sense.

My prediction from last week hasn’t changed. It’s the Bruins in five games.

Last week: 0-1

Season: 53-67

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