We hear the term “Stanley Cup hangover” at the beginning of every season, to describe the teams that played extensively in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are at a serious disadvantage to start. This is based on the exertion from extending their season into mid-June and having a shortened offseason to prepare for the next one. Teams that made it as far as the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues in 2019 are expected to come out of the gate rusty, lagging and exhausted.
For the Bruins, we saw it in 2011 after being victorious in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks. They started out the following campaign losing six of their first nine games and became only the third defending Cup champions to have a sub-.500 record after 10 games. Fortunately, we aren’t seeing the Bruins struggle out of the gate this season. In fact, they’re still playing high-level hockey just as they were four months ago, with just about everything, including team members, still intact.
Will Emotions Hinder a Comeback?
While the Bruins are playing up to par, thanks in large part to their top line, are they going to be ready to face the Blues emotionally? In September, a mere thirty days ago, they were still discussing the disappointment felt from being so close and letting their dream slip away.
“I’m not over it. I don’t think I ever will [be],” admitted David Krejci. “But I’m excited to start the season again, get some games and get back at it. You come across some articles, or on TV, or a specific song on the radio and it was kind of attached to that Stanley Cup Final. It brings up those memories all the time. I’m sure it will keep happening, but it’s something where you learn to live with it.”NBCSports Boston
He did go on to explain that the best way to get over it is to “go out and have a good season” to make another playoff push.
This season, they haven’t let the loss hinder their ability to play decent hockey. This week served as a testament to what they are capable of, finishing with a 1-0-2 record. They are proving that they are still the same, gritty and determined team that we saw in the 2019 postseason.
Battling the Blues
The Blues will enter Saturday’s game feeling good. They just ended a four-game losing streak, and turned it into a two-game winning streak. They are hopeful that their newly found sixty minutes of play will stick. “We’ve been piecing things together but this is the first time, so far this year, that we played the way we wanted to the entire game,” said Alex Pietrangelo. (‘Gordo: No need for soul searching as Blues get back to winning,’ St. Louis Post, 10/23/2019).
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Through their last two games, the Blues have dominated offensively, outscoring their opponents by an 8-3 margin. They remain unshakable on the forecheck, they continue to prevent breakouts and prevent offensive momentum from being generated.
It goes without saying that the Blues know how to shut down the Bruins’ top line, hence Pastrnak’s decreased postseason production. They know what he’s capable of and how to keep him off the scoreboard. This means that the Bruins are going to have to play smart and generate offense from all four lines if they stand a chance of avenging their postseason rival.
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of secondary scoring and how it has been a slow work in progress for St. Louis. However, this weekend’s game will be a true test to see if they’re able to measure up. We’ve seen glimpses of what the other lines are capable of, now it’s time for them to show what they’re made of.
Injuries Make For an Even Matchup
The Bruins will be without Krejci, Karson Kuhlman, and Joakim Nordstrom Saturday night, which is a big loss to their top-six. However, they won’t be the only team missing big names.
Thursday night Vladimir Tarasenko left the ice in the first period and never returned. It was later stated that he had suffered an upper-body injury, but no official ruling has been made as to his status regarding Saturday’s game.
Tarasenko is an offensive workhorse and one of the best goal scorers in the NHL. The Bruins had a tough time keeping track of him during the postseason and he served as a key component to the Blues dominating at even strength.
There is no question his absence will be felt on their bench should he not be able to suit up for Saturday’s rematch.
In what is expected to be one of the greatest games of the season, the Bruins will look for redemption as they face the same, resilient team they saw a mere four months ago. Showing no signs of a ‘hangover,’ they’re in a prime position to battle for the desired outcome: victory.