Before explaining why the Boston Bruins will capture Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, I would like to state for the record that I did hedge my Futures ticket with a wager on St. Louis at +150 to guarantee a profit.
Are you listening (unnamed) Blues fan, who claims to be “a hero” by not buying back part of his $400 Futures ticket at 250-1, worth $100,000 should the franchise hoist its first-ever Cup? Did you hear that, Maple Leafs fans?
There are arguments to pull the trigger on the Blues, yet there are also conflicting numbers, so choose wisely.
In this, the 80th Stanley Cup Final series in the best-of-7 era (since 1939), this will be the 17th Game 7. The home side owns a solid 14-2 record over the previous 16. However, the visitors have captured the past two, with Pittsburgh nipping Detroit on a late goal in 2009, then Boston blanking the Canucks in 2011, igniting rioting throughout the downtown Vancouver area.
That victory by the Bruins prevented the Canucks from grabbing its first Cup. Can the B’s do it again?
Oddly, even though this is the 17th Game 7, there have actually been more four-game sweeps in NHL history — 20 — including three by the Blues when the league mandated one of the expansion teams in the West Division meet the champion among established clubs in the East Division.
This playoff season, St. Louis posted a losing record at home (6-7). But on the road, the Blues have been monsters, going 9-3, including a pair of SCF victories at TD Garden.
Among the “Stats for Dummies” making the rounds: the Bruins have never played a SCF Game 7 on home ice. Duh! The 4-0 shutout win over Vancouver in ‘11 was their first in the penultimate game.
St. Louis owned a 6-0 record in the final game of the first three series before bowing to Boston in Sunday’s Game 6.
However, Boston is just as good. Gaolie Tuukka Rask is 3-0 in closeout contests, allowing just a single goal (0.33 GAA), including a current streak of no goals over a 156:06 span (7+ periods).
In the series preview, nearly everyone pointed out how St. Louis owned an on-ice advantage at even strength, while Boston possesses a better match-up on special teams.
Indeed, the Bruins have killed 17-of-18 short-handed situations (28-of-29 overall), while owning seven power play goals in the series.
But in Game 6, the Bruins took over during 5-in-5 play, scoring three times in the third period and out-shooting St Louis overall by 10 shots. Included was a David Pastrnak goal, the second even-strength goal by Boston’s top line.
With a dozen different defensemen suiting up for Boston this season due to injuries, depth was considered a Bruins’ advantage. It turns out, they also held an edge on offense, too.
In Game 6, a 21st different Boston player registered a playoff point, equaling the ‘87 Flyers for the Stanley Cup record. Missing from the scoring ledger: Rask with a goalie assist.
Most professional handicappers downplay the emotional angle when determining the side to play. Not me!
The list of Bruins’ advantage is huge: Zdeno Chara not missing Game 6 despite breaking his jaw by stopping a puck with his face. Rask’s play in goal at to complete each series, moving him to -140 or higher for the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.
The decision by Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy to sit David Backes, who played 10 seasons in St. Louis (five as Blues team captain), as a healthy scratch. So what happens? Replacement center Karson Kuhlman, a 23-year-old rookie, gives the offense a different look, scoring a third-period goal.
In addition, an assist by David Krejci was his first point of the series, so he’s feeling good.
And don’t overlook the survival of beloved former Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz who was shot Sunday night in his native Dominican Republic but is expected to recover. The Bruins will play for him too.
Conversely, what an egg was laid by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, letting slip its special edition celebrating the Blues’ first-ever Cup win following Game 6. And in 1948, the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” graced the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune.
As we all know, Harry S Truman tallied the presidential election upset. And with that, our final pick of the hockey season is BRUINS -1.5 goals.
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