Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily: Bruins one win away from Cup Final
The Boston Bruins are on a six-game winning streak, and after a 2-1 victory on Tuesday, they are just one win away from a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. The Carolina Hurricanes? They’ll need to conjure up something special to keep their Cinderella tale going.
Here’s a recap of last night’s action (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+) and what to watch for tonight, in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:
About last night …
Carolina was hoping to recapture some energy at home, and the first period could not have gone better from a strategy standpoint. The Canes had a 33-9 edge in shot attempts. According to Natural Stat Trick, that made their expected goals rate 2.49. But, they just couldn’t get one past Tuukka Rask. Boston’s goalie came up with save after beautiful save. If this game doesn’t win over all Rask skeptics in Boston, nothing will.
Goals by Chris Wagner and Brad Marchand turned out to be all the offense the Bruins needed. Carolina is now in desperation mode, and can’t rely on its power play, which is 1-for-12 this series (8.3%) and 5-for-50 this postseason (10.0%). Rod Brind’Amour summed up the Canes night: “That sucked. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Felt like you got kicked in the you know where. Stings for awhile. But you show up tomorrow.”
1. Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins. Rask was clearly the difference in Game 3, and continues a trend this month. According to Natural Stat Trick, he’s saved 29 of 30 high-danger chances at even strength in May, good for a .967 save percentage on those shots. (He’s at .944 overall at even strength this month).
– NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) May 15, 2019
Play of the night
To be honest, there are about 10 different Rask plays we could have highlighted here.
Tuukka Rask is good pic.twitter.com/1seB7zkyf4
– Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 15, 2019
Dud of the night
Justin Williams engaged in a running battle with Torey Krug, took three penalties in the first period, and snuck some punches to David Backes‘ head in a scrum. Not the best look for the captain. (Remember, after being baited into a penalty by Brad Marchand in Game 2, Williams said he was old enough and ought to know better).
For the record, Williams said he didn’t think his emotions got the best of him on Tuesday night, quashing that question with a simple: “Nope.” Brind’Amour defended his captain, though he couldn’t defend the high hit on Krug that earned one of the two minute minors.
“Willy got a little high on a hit,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s not characteristic. The other ones are just battling.”
On the schedule
With Nathan MacKinnon eliminated, this is an unimpeachable fact: Logan Couture is the most dominant forward remaining in the playoffs. He now has 13 goals — four more than any other player — and 19 points in 16 games. This could be the postseason that finally elevates his profile, to be mentioned with the elite forwards in the game.
Another takeaway from Game 2? No matter how dominant the Sharks’ offense has been this postseason, it’s way too early to discount Jordan Binnington. He’s been especially impressive following losses. St. Louis made some defensive switches, which gave them a boost. Not helping their cause? Special teams. The Blues were 0-for-5 on the power play (and 7-for-47 in the postseason) and gave up a short-handed goal to Couture. It was the third shortie St. Louis has allowed these playoffs, most of any team.
Social post of the day
– Stormy (@NHLStormy) May 14, 2019
We’ll just leave this here.
“Thanks for coming, Chuck,”
– Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 15, 2019