NHL: A Few Thoughts as the Conference Finals Begin
Out in San Jose, the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks opened their conference final. What fascinates me about this matchup is that both teams went through the grind of seven games in their previous round. I am curious to see which team is more fit.
The Blues have not been to a Stanley Cup Final since 1970. That year, they were on the other side of Bobby Orr’s jubilation following his Stanley Cup winning goal. The possibility exists for a rematch for St. Louis to inflict some vengeance versus Boston should both clubs progress. Jordan Binnington is a fine rookie goaltender and played well in the Stars series when called upon. St. Louis has been great when they play hockey outside the Show Me state. They have dropped just one game in these playoffs.
I think both teams get one road victory and San Jose wins in seven. The Cody Eakin five-minute major for Vegas on Joe Pavelski in San Jose injected new life into the Sharks. One cannot help but think they feel destined to complete the journey of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time. I sense that they want to get a championship for Joe Thornton in the same matter that the Avalanche did for Raymond Bourque eighteen years ago.
In the first game of the Eastern Conference Final Thursday, the Boston Bruins showed resiliency as they fell behind a pesky Carolina Hurricanes side going into the third period. Carolina let the game slip due to mistakes in the third period, and that gave them the numerical disadvantage. Boston took advantage of two power play goals. They took control by that point, even before having two late tallies at the end of the game in a 5-2 win.
I get the sense Carolina will make the adjustments and play as they did in the second period as NBCSN commentator Eddie Olczyk pointed out in the telecast. The Hurricanes had a spell in which they looked sharper. It feels like there are no excuses for either side as both teams got an extra day of rest. Normally, there are forty-hours between games for the participants to exhale, then go at it again. Still, I get the sense that unlike many playoff series, home ice advantage will be important. No visiting team will win, so the Bruins will win in seven.
How do you feel about how the NHL Conference Finals have started? Leave a comment below.
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Work cited: NHL app, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_St._Louis_Blues_seasons