Everything Else

You fucking fuckwits.

One of the reasons that most everyone hates the Patriots is that the path always seems to make itself in front of them. Not only are they ahead of the game, but their division has had unmatched and an almost incomprehensible incompetence and asshoolery for over a decade. Which means the Pats get six wins every year automatically to start, which means they only have to find five or six out of the other 10 to play at home through the playoffs. Just their aura has turned everyone closest to them into unidentifiable goo.

That’s what befell the Bruins here. Must be a Boston thing. The juggernaut in their own division broke all their ribs trying to fellate themselves in the first round, while the Bruins drew the one team that has such a mental block about them all they have to do is stand still and watch the doofuses on the other bench speak in tongues and break their backs doing some sort of seance. From there all they had was playoff neophytes through to the Final, ones that were getting nosebleeds from the rarified air they hadn’t experienced before. All too easy.

And then all it was in the Final was a team that didn’t belong. That didn’t know what they were doing there and kept turning around to find the relief of someone telling them to get out of there. The Bruins had 11 days off, a gift this time of year for nothing else but to stuff Patrice Bergeron’s organs back out of his legs where they seem to keep falling during any playoff run.

And yet they kept making it harder. Long stretches of trying to do the Humpty dance at the offensive blue line instead of just getting it deep and seeing if the Blues defense could get it out, which they can’t. The false impression that Zdeno Chara can do anything any more, which he can’t. Another Brad Marchand disappearance (and we’ll get back to this fraudulent shit weasel in a second). Bergeron injury. We’ve seen it all before. It’s the script.

And yet the Bruins had it in their hands. They’d engineered what should have been the Blues-iest moment in history, deflating that sweat-stained and illiterate balloon and party they were so ready to have. Game 7 at home, after pulling the pin. All they had to do was basically show up and not fuck up. All they had to do was bury the puck in a three-quarters open net instead of firing it back into the guts of a scrambling Jordan Binnington.

But that’s what the Bruins, and Marchand, did. It was easier to score, and would have changed the game and series. But this is June, which means it’s when Brad Marchand turns into a gaseous cloud.

Here’s Marchand’s record in his last two final appearances. One 5-on-3 goal, one empty net goal. That’s it. 13 games, and the supposed best left winger in the game can’t be found when it matters most with the a space telescope. Here, let’s revisit his coup-de-fuckstick:

I don’t know what’s best/worst. His Roger Dorn Ole bullshit at the blue line or his “Fuck it it’s your problem now” shuffle off to the bench with all of seven seconds left. This is Brad Marchand when it counts. Enjoy paying him until he’s David Backes II.

Here’s a list of teams to lose two Finals since the Great Lockout of ’05: Boston.

Congrats, it’s what you’ve always wanted, your own exclusive club where you can chew a truck-full of Skoal, pretend the Dropkicks are good and represent you in anyway, and talk about how Cam Neely could still score 50 in this league (that is if the league hadn’t been “pussified,” which is definitely how Bruins fans and execs described it). We know what happens here. You’ll learn all the wrong lessons because you still let Mike Milbury hang around for some godforsaken reason. Despite your success the past two years based on a quick defense and playing as fast as possible, along with Bergeron’s genius, you’ll conclude it’s because you’re not tough enough. You’ll let your BarfStool fandom bully you into thinking this. You know it to be true. Here comes Wayne Simmonds and Braydon Coburn. Fucking book it. This is the only organization that could double-down on a Backes signing, and they will.

You’ll blame Tuukka Rask, and finally break him when he gives up three goals in a period in the first week of October. If he has any sense he’ll pull a Patrick Roy right after Kevin Paul Dupont belches up his column questioning his heart, and then he’ll go on to win a Conn Smythe with the Flames. It’s what he deserves. It’s what you deserve.

It couldn’t have been any simpler, and you could have saved us from this great plague. You made every mistake possible and yet it was still there for you. The Blues kept tossing you the Cup, the one you kept chanting you wanted, and the Bruins kept receiving it like a person seeing a 16-inch softball for the first time.

I’ll tell you what happens now. You’ll lose to the Leafs next year. Everything’s broken, and you broke it. The gates are open, and everyone is coming for theirs. That’s if you don’t return to your natural state and getting fetal for the Canadiens in the first round. And then Krejci, Marchand, and Bergeron will be too old. There’s nothing behind them. This was it for you. You can’t fuck up a chance like this and think you’ll ever get another one. Hockey may be random and weird and stupid, but it doesn’t allow for that kind of compassion. It will exact its pound of flesh.

Also your biggest celebrity fans are either the leader of the most racist, misogynist sports empire in the world, a comedian who stole all of his stuff from Bill Hicks, or some dipshit actor who somehow keeps drugging Emily Blunt into believing he’s either talented or handsome. How perfect.

So in the words of Jon Hamm, perhaps the only good thing about St. Louis:



Everything Else


GAMETIME: 7pm Central 


PISSHEADS AND CHOWDAHEADS: St. Louis Gametime, Stanley Cup Of Chowder

If it feels like this goddamn Final has gone on for two months, you’re not alone. While the added day off for travel makes sense and should have been instituted a while ago, it does add four days to the series so you go from two weeks to two and a half, and it makes a difference. Hockey on June 12th is just dumb.

Or maybe it feels like it’s been this long because it’s two teams you’d rather not see win, and we spent all that time staring into the abyss that St. Louis could actually pull this off. Those two days felt like 70. And they still could, clearly, but a Game 7 on the road doesn’t much seem in character for them. Then again, being here at all doesn’t seem in character for them, so everything we knew and built our foundations upon is rubbish. Good way to live.

So it comes to this. Analyzing one hockey game can be futile, because anything can flip it. A bad call, a missed call, a delay of game penalty, a too many men penalty, someone falling on their ass, really anything.

Also, if Tuukka Rask plays as well as he did in Game 6, it isn’t going to matter much anyway. He is the reason the Bruins traipsed to the Final, and the layoff clearly took him down a level (down was the only way for him to go), but he may have found it again.

What Blues fans will be watching intently is if Jordan Binnington is going to revert to Blues traditional goaltending after letting in Brandon Carlo’s double-play ball through him and into the net. BABIP Kung Fu Treachery can come to hockey too, people. You would imagine the Blues aren’t going to get this with a middling goalie performance as the Bruins will make the Blues work at least on the power play, and Rask isn’t going to let the bottom fall out either. You know what we’re betting on.

Again, it’s a bit silly to pinpoint one player, because any fuckwit can come up with two goals and have his name live forever. Remember Max Talbot scoring twice in a Game 7? That dude was just a live action Pepe Le Peux. Still, most will focus on the Bruins top line. If they score, the Bruins tend to win. They hadn’t really until Game 6, with Marchand pulling a Jagr and only showing up when his team was on a two-man advantage and then Pastrnak got one in the third. The narrative has been that Bergeron has been getting pushed around in this series, but I don’t know that I buy it. He’s only been in the red in both attempts and expected goals in a game in Game 5 and Game 2, so he just hasn’t gotten the rub.

You would expect Bruce Cassidy to continue to keep Bergeron’s line and the Chara-McAvoy pairing separate, mostly to keep Chara away from Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko which he simply hasn’t had the mobility to deal with. That still leaves O’Reilly’s line as the assignment, and he’s obviously been going off of late. One feels if the Blues get this, it will be from that line. If anyone else dents on either side, then it’ll be their night.

It’s hard to see the Bruins losing three straight home games. The Blues have the bigger questions in goal and on special teams, which is not where you want to be in a Game 7. But again, it’s one game, where anything stupid or inexplicable is possible. But hey, at least it will be over come 11pm or 12am, right?

Everything Else

“If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

That was the text compatriot Matt McClure sent us before puck drop last night, fearing that we were about to cross the rubicon and face our worst fears. But what we should have remembered is…this is the St. Louis Blues.

So of course they were going to come out with their ass-hair on fire and run everywhere and over everyone, but of course they would take it too far in front of their drooling, screaming, belching fanbase and take a dumb penalty to ruin it all. Step up and be counted, Brayden Schenn! Then a little slice of bad luck, the only kind they’ve ever known, with ROR putting the puck over the glass, and they’re chasing the rest of the night.

There’s a tendency to push this as a Tuukka Rask game, and he was brilliant and back to the level he had been. But by any measure the Bruins actually controlled this one, dominating attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals. The Blues can’t say they put Rask under the cosh when they only fired 29 shots at him. Yes, they had good chances, but not a fountain of them. Considering the condition the Bruins are in, they should never be able to hold the Blues at arm’s length for a game like this. But essentially, they did.

Let’s clean it up.

The Two Obs

-The Bruins were able to do what they do because their best players were their best players again. The Perfect Line was all over 60%, as was Charlie McAvoy, who I might not get but he was magnificent last night. When in control and not trying to Leo Messi everything, he is the perfect antidote to the rabid dog forecheck of the Blues because he’s quick and shifty enough to simply evade it. David Krejci actually appeared last night, which gave the Bruins a second line of threat.

-For all the huffing and butt-chugging of Ryan O’Reilly last night by the broadcast and his magical faceoff abilities, his line got their head kicked in by McAvoy and Chara, which shouldn’t happen at all because Chara was a complete liability last night. All the action happened around him. He looked like when Ant-Man enlarges himself at the airport and Spider-Man and Iron Man are just flying around him. He couldn’t get to any loose puck, and when he did he generally turned it over. And other than his non-consequential goal, ROR’s line did nothing about it.

-Bruce Cassidy, in a change, kept Chara-McAvoy separate from Bergeron’s line, and let the latter simply nullify the Blues top line of Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko. They carried an 85% possession mark against them. You would expect to see this a lot on Wednesday when Cassidy can also choose the matchups, and wonder why maybe New Genius Berube didn’t try something else?

-I’ve always liked John Moore, but recognize that both Devils and Bruins fans hate him because he really has become past sell-by date milk the past few years. That said, in a third pairing role last night he had a very strong game which could have been a weakness the Blues exploited.

-Boy, it wouldn’t be a true Blues balls-up without a really bad goal, huh? Thanks for sticking with tradition, Jordan Binnington. It looked exactly like Sharp’s goal against Ryan Miller in Game 6 in ’14. Brought back so many memories. They’ll be replaying that one for a while if the Blues don’t come out on top on Wednesday. I’m here for it.

-So I’d love to pronounce the Blues dead, but it hasn’t worked that way this spring. They biffed both their home games against the Jets but then took another win in Winnipeg after that. They were down 3-2 to the Stars but came through that. They recovered from “that call” against the Sharks. Yes, this feels like where it should come undone and you can’t really fathom the Bruins losing three straight at home, especially if Rask is going to play like this. But if any Blues team is different, and I’m not sure they are yet, it’s this one.

You could also see them giving up three power play goals in the 1st period on truly moronic penalties and all of us giggling and frothing at the mouth on our couches. Should be fun.

Everything Else

Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe it’s the better way to accept your fate. Or maybe this is just setting up for what will become the ultimate Blues moment. There are your two roads. Resignation or the road to hope. I have no idea. At least the Final tossed up a decent game for once…except it got completely overshadowed by more NHL brilliance. Let’s run through it.

-Let’s get it out at the top. The non-call on Noel Acciari is a result of the NHL’s and hockey’s antiquated and downright stupid, “LET THE PLAYERS PLAY!!” attitude. That only gets exacerbated by the NHL bus-tossing their refs when they do make a call that is seen as harsh. NHL refs are already terrified or outright refusing to call penalties that are obvious late in games, and it’s been that way the entire time. And we know better. Then they see what happened to Vegas, and that only intensifies it. Even if those refs were wrong, the NHL can’t allow an avenue for teams and coaches to exploit, which they have. Protect your refs.

We can accept that in some ways. What can’t be accepted is the repeated hits to the head last night that the refs bent over backwards for to not call anything. You even had Eddie NoCheck (it’s what he was known as during his career) trying to justify one or two by talking about technique and changing levels of the other players’ heads, as if he would know the first thing about it. Whenever the NHL gets serious about getting rid of this, if it ever does though it may be forced one day, it’ll instruct its refs to err on the side of punishment and not leniency. Hockey doesn’t need hits to the head to be hockey. But in the playoffs, and these especially, the refs have been neutered. This is what you get. And I’m sure it’s what you’ll continue to get as the NHL remains more terrified of a Don Cherry rant about the softening of the game than anything else.

-Anyway, to the teams. The Bruins did more than enough last night to win, but were just the victim of the first Jordan Binnington game of the series, especially in the first period. That happens, it’s just a shit time for it for the Bs.

-The story of this series is going to be how Patrice Bergeron’s line has disappeared. Bergeron is probably hurt, which is good enough. What’s Marchand’s excuse? Oh right, that he’s pretty much always been a Bergeron passenger and when the driver of the bus isn’t there, he goes nowhere.

-The funny thing is that Zdeno Chara had his best game as far as possession goes in this one, which is something the Bruins probably have to win. The first Blues goal wasn’t even his fault, as much as I would have liked it to be to punch holes in this stupid Willis Reed narrative, but it was McAvoy who went chasing behind the net with Chara and it was his alley that ROR went running for. But then again, McAvoy sucks in his own end which we already knew.

-It’s still frustrating to watch the Bruins go through phases of play where they simply have to carry the puck through two or three Blues defenders at the line, instead of getting it deep where the Blues have proven they can’t consistently escape. There are times for both, but the Bruins haven’t been able to diagnose when those are outside of Game 1, really. I’m making Gunnarsson and Edmundson and Bortuzzo prove they can pass or skate their way out of trouble, because I know they can’t.

-I’m not being fair to the Blues, who have played at a pace for two straight games I didn’t think they could manage. It’s really hard to harass retreating d-men and then get back to make life hell at your own line, but they’ve done it.

-The Bruins could use a Tuukka game Sunday. They haven’t really gotten one yet.

Everything Else

I mean, take your pick. The hockey hasn’t been terribly enjoyable, there’s yet to be a good game, both fanbases would do the world a favor by leaping into Sarlacc, no matter who wins we’re all going to be sick, and add to that the narratives or stories around these teams are so stupid and wrong. The feeling of relief when this is over will be akin to  the stiff shit that takes five minutes to get out. A metaphor more apt than we should take too much time to consider.

With Zdeno Chara unlikely to make the bell tonight (and I’m still convinced it doesn’t matter much other than numbers), you can be sure Blues fans are going to be pumping that their HEAVY style is the reason the Blues are where they are and very well may pull this off. It’s been what they’ve been pushing for…oh, 25 years now? 30? Their entire existence? I’m not sure, but the Blues have always had to define themselves by how much they make their stained-jersey wearing fans snort and belch and cheer itchy trigger-fingered cops. Never mind this team is actually built on its speed and newfound finish and creativity, because that doesn’t fit into how St. Louis has to portray itself and the hockey media is all too happy to go along with because it’s either too lazy or too drunk to do much else.

And to be fair, it’s the same for the Bruins, who got here thanks to sublime goaltending and having the best line in hockey, along with a very mobile defense that the Leafs, or Jackets, or Canes simply couldn’t catch enough or force into mistakes because they always find space.

So let’s review, because it’s going to come up during the broadcast the next two or three nights. Here is the list of “victims” for the Blues and their supposed torturous style:

Erik Karlsson – carried a groin injury since February that caused him to miss 26 games that got worse, wouldn’t you know, by playing every other day in the most intense form of the game for a month straight.

Tomas Hertl – Illegal hit to the head

Matt Grzelcyk – Illegal hit from behind

Zdeno Chara – puck to the face

So yeah, the Blues GRITHEARTSANDPAPERFAAAAART had exactly zero to do with any of this, unless we’re counting illegal and dirty hits as an actual tactic now. Which they very well may be in St. Louis. I suppose the real fear is with Tom Wilson getting a ring last year, teams are just going to sanction whatever nutters they have on their team to make a couple runs at someone per series, and they’ll deal with the consequences as long as the other team’s defenseman misses time. After all, you have more forwards than they have d-men. And before you shrug that off as an impossibility, remember this is hockey and anything can happen, and the dumber it is the more likely it is to.

Physicality is part of playoff hockey, no one denies this. Sorry, let me get that right, NO ONE DENIES THIS! But seeing as how everyone is trying to be physical and shrink time to make plays and cause turnovers and mistakes and get the puck back deep in the offensive zone with everyone out of position, it’s not really a “strategy.” The defining part is how you cash in when you get those turnovers, or how you set your team up to avoid them. The forecheck and physical play is a given. It’s like saying in football that having five offensive lineman who will definitely try to block people is a strategy (unless this is the Cutler-era Bears, who definitely didn’t have that nor try to do that).

The attrition of playoff hockey has always struck me awkwardly (then again, what doesn’t? I’m gawkier than the ace of spades!). I know the length and “Wreck Of The Hesperus” nature of it makes it a true test, and what a lot of people love. Which is fine. Still, if the playoffs are all that matter, and we’re using this to decide who the best teams are (which it doesn’t always but whatever not the point), it would be a truer test if these teams were closer to full-strength. Depth is certainly part of the hockey equation, no doubt. But I don’t know that having these things settled by third liners and eighth defensemen is the best showcase of the sport. And we have 82 games to test depth as well, including when top players simply go through slumps.

There is no answer of course other than shortening the season (I can’t stress my 76-game schedule when Seattle arrives enough, knowing it will never, ever happen), which is a nonstarter. So we’ll just have to live with this, as wrong and misguided as it may be.


Everything Else

Ok, so remember when the Hawks used to kind of just do enough to win a series? Like, they’d let a road game slip because they already got one to even out home-ice and they just didn’t feel like matching the intensity for six or seven straight games? Like the Nashville series in ’15. Or even the Final in ’15, really. They’d save it for the end. That’s what I want to believe the Bruins are doing. Except they don’t have nearly the pedigree, and might only have enough energy to really give it a go every other game. Which would be enough. Or maybe not. Maybe losing Grzelcyk is a real problem. Maybe this is the same team that did get knocked around a fair amount by the Canes for the last two games but had Tuukka Rask to bail them out, and he’s not playing at that level right now.

Maybe the gods just hate you.

Anyway, let’s clean it up:

The Two Obs

-I don’t know whether hockey coaches outthink themselves, or they and teams just forget, but I can’t for the life of me figure out where the Bruins got the idea that carrying the puck over the offensive blue line every time was going to work or was the more advantageous route. When they’ve been good in this series, they’ve thrown the Blues game right back at them. That is, get the puck deep, get on the still very slow and very dumb and very brick-handed Blues defense, and watch the turnovers ensue. Especially in the second half of last night’s game, I must’ve watched Krug or Marchand or McAvoy try and traipse through three or four Blues and just lose the damn thing. Yes, this worked in Game 1 when the Blues were out of position chasing their own forecheck and the Bruins could enter the zone at odd-mans or at evens all the time. That wasn’t last night. It was too complicated by half.

-I realize Zdeno Chara is a Hall of Famer, and the second best Bruins d-man of all-time. He’s also been a sloth in this series, constantly getting his head churned into margarine by the Blues top line or even their second line. It is just not that big of a deal for the Bruins to be without him, even though McGuire and Olczyk were convinced it was. Yes, being without two d-men now is a problem, but that’s a numbers thing no a name thing. McAvoy’s numbers with John Moore, who everyone hates, were just about the same. And again, though Berube wasn’t really chasing matchups all that much, the fact that he’s happy to have his top line go out there against Chara tells you what you need to know.

-Two pretty choppy rebounds from Rask and that’s basically the difference here, even though the Blues carried the play.

-At least Bergeron’s line looked like Bergeron’s line for most of the night without scoring, carrying the Bs best possession and expected goals numbers.

-Boy if Berube ever figured out to play Vince Dunn more than Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson, then we could be in real trouble.

-Grzelcyk is looking a real loss, because at the moment only McAvoy and Krug can get out of trouble and they were off color last night. Maybe Carlo but it’s an awful lot to ask of Clifton. Back at home you can shelter him more and the Bruins will have to.

This is going to be an awfully bumpy ride from here.


Everything Else

That’s absolutely true. I was not snoring and drooling on my couch for the first 30 minutes of this contest in a European Champions stupor only to discover the game was over when I came to. Definitely saw the whole thing. It was that important to me. I thought it mattered that much, and wouldn’t find the missing of any of it actual sweet relief to my psyche. Nope, no siree bob.

When I awo…I mean I watched the Blues take seven penalties, including three in the first, which is very Blues. I definitely saw that Jordan Binnington further proved that he’s pretty much just been “a dude” since like March 1st. He’s at .909 for the playoffs now, which is hardly remarkable. And by the time St. Louis could launch any sort of response they were done and Tuukka Rask could yawn his way through the last 40. Definitely witnessed it all.

-As I guessed, or maybe just hoping, the “rust” issue was a problem for the Bruins in Game 2 and not Game 1. The overwhelming adrenaline of the Final beginning got them through, and they skated away from the Blues forecheck pretty much every time. They looked leggy in Game 2 and couldn’t get away from that Blues pressure, and you got what you got. They only had to do it for the first period last night, but the Bruins had their d-men take a half-step up, force the Blues to dump the puck in a touch quicker, which gives them more space to retrieve the puck and move their feet or move their puck quickly. Even with Grzelcyk they were able to do this. Or at least Krug and Carlo were able to, which was enough.

-Noted New Genius Craig Berube chose not to keep sending his top line of Schenn-Schwartz-Tarasenko as the completely outpaced Chara, and though the O’Reilly line was able to turn Chara’s head into something resembling an anvil most of the night, that caused his top line to do most of the chasing of Krug. And the Blues need that top line to be in the offensive end and score, because they’re not going to get the goals consistently from the likes of TO BLAIS WHICH MEANS TO BLUFF and Perron and Maroon and the other clowns that comprise their bottom six. Considering the way the Blues top line tossed around Chara and McAvoy in Boston you’d think you’d stick with it. But Berube is a genius now, as we’ve stated, so what do I know?

-Speaking of genius, Bergeron’s line had as much time as Coyle’s and Nordstrom’s line, which is definitely a plan for success. Yes, Bergeron is not healthy but come on, man. David Pastrnak had more ice time than only two other forwards on the Bruins. There’s taking your foot off the gas and then there’s whatever this is.

-The Blues led in hits so that means they really won, right?

-This is Binnington’s biggest reverse since taking over the starter’s job, and should be interesting to see how he responds. He had only given up more than three goals three times all season, but the Blues will need a rebound effort from him. But again, since March 1st his SV% is .910. Which is fine. It’s not great. It’s barely good or average. It’s not going to get it done here.

Everything Else

I suppose on a day when yet another professional sports team gets in bed with BarfStool it’s only right they get their dicks kicked in at home, which is essentially what the Bruins did despite the game going to overtime. This series is certainly make everyone taste their own bile, with the Bruins off the ice and the Blues on it, but here we are and now the Blues have won a Final game for the first time and nothing feels right and pretty much everything sucks. They should just cancel this thing tomorrow and the overwhelming majority of people would be happy.

I guess I have to clean it up.

-The Bruins aren’t going to win many games, if any, when their top line is getting turned over by the other team’s top line. Which is exactly what happened last night, as Schenn-Swartz-Tarasenko turned that trick. Not helping the cause at all, and the one thing we pointed out the Bruins had to do from Game 1 to 2, was sending out Zdeno Chara behind Bergeron to deal with that threat, because he isn’t up for it. Check out Tarasenko’s goal for further proof if you need, where he looked like your elderly neighbor trying to get a weed out of the yard. It’s trickier after Grzelcyk got hurt and the Bs were down to five D and still only gave Clifton 16 minutes, but you know you’ve got a matchup wrong when the other team is going to go running for it when they get the home ice on Saturday. And you can bet your ass St. Louis will. If Chara ever starts a shift anywhere but the offensive zone, fire Bruce Cassidy into the nearest landfill, which in St. Louis is always right down the block.

-Torey Krug is the only blue-liner to come out with any credit and in the black possession-wise for Boston, and that’s mostly because he’s already driven the Blues into frothing madness and they spend his entire shift trying to hunt him down like it was a fox hunt. This will only get worse in front of the braying rabble and their truck nuts, and the Bruins will score off a rush through that space at least once.

-To pin it all on Chara and the Bs ineptness isn’t fair. I thought the Blues would have to step back and basically trap, and they did so at times. They also were able to turn up the volume on their forecheck, which you can do once or twice but not convinced for a whole series. If anything, the rust everyone was worried about looked like it was more present in Game 2 as adrenaline got the Bruins through Game 1. They definitely looked too relaxed at points and it was no match for the fury of the other group.

-David Krejci showing up at some point would be nice.

-Schwartz threw up a 78% Corsi and an 81% xGF% going out there against Chara, if you’d like to know the scope of the problem here.

-Tuukka Rask made some of his own messes last night, as his rebound control was less than stellar. It prolongated too many Blues possessions and the overtime winner, though on a delayed call, was an example of something that could have been smothered earlier.

-Curious to see what Anointed Genius Berube does Saturday, as Pietrangelo was used exclusively in the offensive zone last night. If they’re going to choose to send Parayko and Edmundson at Bergeron every shift in St. Louis, I think that will go well for those of us who want this to be over quickly.

-Oskar Sundqvist’s hit was bad, I don’t know if it’s suspension bad but then again if you’re trying to eliminate this thing from hockey it has to be. There was never a point where he didn’t see Grzelcyk’s numbers, it was also late and useless, and the NHL is going to have to start erring on the side of harsh instead of lenient if it ever truly wants change. Which it probably doesn’t.

-Sammy Blais doesn’t do anything but run around like an idiot and get knocked on his ass. What a perfect representation of everything it is to be a Blue. He’s Tom Wilson without any of the whimsy.

Let’s just hope that was a one game belch.

Everything Else



Game 1 in Boston Monday, 7pm

Game 2 in Boston Wednesday, 7pm

Game 3 in St. Louis Saturday, June 1st, 7pm

Game 4 in St. Louis Monday, June 3rd, 7pm

Let’s get through this together. It’s the Layoff vs. The Momentum, and it’s going to be utter torture for pretty much everyone outside the two cities involved. Still, I’m of the opinion it won’t last very long, but I haven’t been very good at this all spring so you’re going to blame me when this goes balls-up anyway.

Goalies: The big question here is if the 11 days off for Tuukka Rask is going to cost him any sharpness in what has been one of the best springs a goalie has put up in a long while. The Knights last year won the West Final in five games, had a fair amount of time off, and then Fleury was the biggest reason they got pantsed in the Final (and he’ll be the biggest reason they never get back there. Good times). Rask comes into this one with a .942, which if he were to carry out would be even better that Tim Thomas‘s Tour-de-Stupid of 2011. It’s the best mark of any goalie to get to the conference final at least since Quick’s .946 in 2012. The only marks recently that have been better for a conference final appearance or better have been Giguere’s Conn Smythe campaign in ’03, Smith’s 2012 (get fucked), and Hiller in ’09. Strangely, only Quick’s won the Cup, but here we are. If Rask remains at this level, then you don’t have to worry. He looked so in control in Carolina when the Bruins needed him, so it’s not like he’s been hanging on an edge to do this.

Jordan Binnington has been fine. Really, that’s it. He didn’t have to do much once the Sharks basically disintegrated. He was very good in Game 4, which is about the last time the Blues needed him to be. He faced only 21 shots in Game 5 and 26 in Game 6, and one would think the Bruins will require him to do more than that. Binnington has only made over 30 saves twice in 19 playoff games, but the Blues haven’t really required it. They will require a goalie win or two in this series, but it’s still not a sure thing that Binnington will provide it.

Defense: As they pile us off to the rubber room in the next week or two, they’ll do so while we’re muttering if not screaming about how neither of these blue lines is any good. So let’s narrow the focus. The Blues have to figure out who takes the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak assignment, and I still don’t believe they have anyone to do it. But I didn’t think they had anyone to take the Sharks top line either. Still, this is the best line in hockey, and the Canes couldn’t do much about it and they have twice the defense. I assume the Blues will do everything they can to get Pietrangelo out there, but he doesn’t have the mobility to deal with this. I don’t know how teams haven’t been able to harvest the organs of Parayko and Edmundson, but the Bruins aren’t really all that deep either. Krejci is good, and DeBrusk has played well, but they’ve rotated left-wingers. Still, the Bruins didn’t get this far without depth scoring, and that shouldn’t stop against the murder of idiots the Blues are trotting out there.

The Bruins aren’t an impressive group either. Chara and McAvoy take the hard shifts, and metrically they’ve come up in the red. Goals-wise though, which is how they still measure the damn thing, they’re both over 65%. Krug and Carlo have been much better metrically, and they’ll have the easier time against Sundqvist’s or Bozak’s crew here. Grzelcyk has actually been sneaky good, and not getting sheltered starts to be so, but he’s the one d-man whom the Bruins can’t buy a goal when he’s on the ice. They could use a market correction here.

Forwards: The Blues have gotten incredible work from ROR, Tarasenko, and Perron, even when Tarasenko couldn’t throw a grape in the ocean at even-strength. Schenn-Schwartz-Sundqvist certainly matched or exceeded them against the Sharks, and Schenn came close to sending Pierre McGuire into a coma. Bozak, Thomas, and Maroon have chipped in with a couple big goals, and if the Blues have any advantage in this series it’s here as the Bruins don’t really go three lines deep.

We’ve already been over the best line in hockey, and given the usual IQ of the Blues they’ll get looks on the power play where they’ve been death pretty much throughout. That with Rask alone is probably enough. Coyle and Johansson have chipped in here or there, but mostly the Bruins have ridden what they get from the top unit and a little more from Krejci’s line. If the Blues find a way to stop the top line, or even keep them somewhat contained, the Bruins could be in a quandary. Good thing they won’t.

Prediction: I’m not even going to pretend to be unbiased here, so I’m going to say only what I will allow myself to say. The Blues are too stupid to not put the Bruins on the power play a good number of times. Binnington is not up to turning away repeated looks for Bergeron, Pasta, and Da Noid on the man-advantage. Rask might not be able to maintain this .942 after this break, but he probably doesn’t have to. Even .930 almost certainly gets it done.

Yeah, Binnington could go off. We don’t know enough about him to say he won’t. Tarasenko could get hot. The Blues slightly better depth at forward could matter here if the Bruins top line doesn’t keep causing gas explosions everywhere. The 11 days might matter more than we think.

But I don’t see it. Get it over with. Bruins in five.


Everything Else

Call me a sucker for these moments.

I’ve certainly had my issues with the Washington Capitals. I’ve definitely reveled in their failures along with everyone else, spiced with a tinge of frustration with them for not making good on the promise of so many teams in the past (don’t tell me Caps-Hawks in ’10 wouldn’t have been a much better series than the Flyers, not that I care now). Tom Wilson’s presence. Timothy Leif, though if Oshie had become a Hawk once upon a time he’d be one of our favorites I’m sure. Bruce Boudreau. Barry Trotz at times. They’ve been far from the most annoying team in the world, and if you’re a hockey fan for just two to three years or so you’ll be annoyed by every team that isn’t yours.

But I don’t know how you didn’t smile watching Alex Ovechkin last night. Sure, it’s not like any professional athlete will “suffer” when they don’t win a championship, given the perks that come along with it. And yet this is what they’ve been trained and drafted and deployed to do their whole lives. It’s been their raison d’etre, and if it’s not they can expect a torrent of horseshit thrown their way (for evidence, check out Pat Boyle calling out Jonathan Toews on his podcast/propaganda).

And especially when it’s Ovie, who’s basically had to eat all the shit for the Caps for 13 years without ever balking. Writers looking for an easy scapegoat, who wouldn’t dare call him a choker or accuse him of not caring if he came from Swift Current. Coaches trying to cover their own incompetence by laying it as his feet. Caps fans will deny it now but there were a fair few calling for him to be traded after whatever playoff failure you want to choose. The constant comparisons to Sidney Crosby.

And Ovie had to swallow all of that Caps-Pens bullshit, even though most of it came well before he was even thought of as a prospect. Ovie’s Caps and Sid’s Pens have only met in the playoffs four times. And one of those was 10 years ago. Does it even count? The Caps-Pens “thing” is basically only slightly more of a “thing” than Hawks-Canucks or Hawks-Wild. Fuck, the Hawks and Predators almost have the same recent playoff history. And yet Ovie and the Caps had to choke it all down because the Pens went on to win a Cup each time after beating them, which doesn’t really have much to do with them, does it?

You see Ovechkin last night, quite simply the greatest scorer the game has ever seen, and what it meant to him. Or those fans who flooded Chinatown and elsewhere last night in DC (wishing Chicago might have found a gathering space for the Hawks once, but oh well. I wouldn’t have been there anyway, because I needed to be punching Killion at the bar). You can’t help but smile. It’s been a good hockey town, whatever you think of it. And you see them do it for the first time, and just maybe you remember what it was like the first time for you. It’s always good to be reminded why you bother with this in the first place.

I saw a lot about how this clearly isn’t the best team and how this is how the NHL works. And maybe it is. At this point, we know the regular season standings don’t tell a complete story. I think you take the teams that have 105 points or more and you basically throw them in a “top group” and they’re all the same. The Caps won a division that produced five playoff teams. They clearly don’t suck.

Matt had it right yesterday, that when you get to this stage, it’s usually the chalk. You may say this team or that team wasn’t the best one, but there hasn’t been a Cup winner in a very long time that came from nowhere. They’re almost always among that “top group.” You can get some weirdos in the Final, and then the team with more future Hall of Famers wins. The Caps have at least two in Ovechkin and Backstrom, and Kuznetsov could be one day if he maintains this level. It’s not that hard.

I wonder where Ovie goes from here. After Sid won his first he had his first 50-goal season the next out, seemingly freed of what had been expected and placed on him since he was a teenager. Does Ovechkin have anther 50 or 60-goal season in him? I wouldn’t ever doubt him.

It’s funny, because most of this playoff run, this Caps team has been somewhat derided as “not a vintage Caps team.” And yet if one of the previous two that were better than this, had just gotten a bounce or two here or there against the Penguins, and won a Cup before this, we’d say this version did it on know-how and confidence, much like the ’15 Hawks. It’s still the same core, they just got a little more luck, a little more goaltending, and there it is. Looking back at our local outfit, Game 7 OT in ’13 could have gone any direction. The Bruins were a post away from going up 3-0. Two multi-OT games against Nashville in ’15 would have swung that series, or Pekka Rinne not drinking a bathtub of cough syrup before every game would have. And then what would the narrative be?

It’s why talk of “windows” is hardly the whole discussion. There isn’t really more the Caps could have done to now be a multi-Cup winner, a save here or there or a deflection here or there. I guess that’s the magic of it all. Teams can only put themselves in position, but after that so much of it is out of their hands. It’s fascinating theater and torturous following.

Good for Ovie. Good for Trotz, who coached his ass off this spring. Holtby too. It’s a good ending. Maybe not the best. But good.

Anyway, Vegas Eulogy Monday.