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5 Keys: Bruins at Blues, Game 6

St. Louis one win from first championship; Boston needs more scoring by top line

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

BRUINS at BLUES

8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

Blues lead best-of-7 series 3-2

The St. Louis Blues can win their first championship since entering the NHL in 1967 by defeating the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Enterprise Center on Sunday.

"You don't want to get too far ahead, but it's hard not to," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "That's normal, but our guys have done a good job in the playoffs of focusing on just small things, first periods, things like that, and that's going to be important tonight."

The Blues have won the past two games and are 7-1 in Games 5-7 during the playoffs.

 

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

 

The Bruins were in the same situation, down 3-2 with Game 6 on the road, in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They rallied to win the series in seven games.

"We'll be ready to play," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.

The Bruins are 7-3 on the road in the playoffs. St. Louis is 6-6 at home.

Here are 5 keys to Game 6:

 

1. Starting on time

The Blues will focus on controlling their emotions and feeding off the energy of the home crowd in a good way. They were better in Game 4 in St. Louis, when center Ryan O'Reilly scored 43 seconds into the game, than they were at home in Game 3, when the Bruins led 3-0 after the first period.

The Bruins want to recreate their start from Game 5, when they outshot St. Louis 17-8 in the first period, but this time add some finishing touch.

"That's our goal tonight," Cassidy said. "Get the lead, extend the lead, play winning hockey to close out the game."

 

2. Paging the Bruins' top line

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been shut out at 5-on-5 in the first five games. A sixth straight game without a 5-on-5 point from its top line could spell the end of Boston's season.

Cassidy said the way the top line played in Game 5 showed him they're nearly ready to break out -- especially Marchand, who hit the post and had other good chances among his three shots on goal and six shot attempts at 5-on-5.

"I feel they're close," Cassidy said.

Video: STL@BOS, Gm1: Marchand seals win with empty-net goal

 

3. Second-line switch for Boston

Forward Karson Kuhlman, a healthy scratch for the past 12 games, will be on Boston's second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Cassidy said Kuhlman "has got a good motor" along with being fast and responsible, and that's why he's using him on the second line instead of going back to David Backes, who was scratched in Game 5, when the Bruins played 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Kuhlman's return could spark Krejci, who has no points in the series.

"Maybe [Krejci] sees a few more pucks in the neutral zone, gets a little more speed off the rush or speed on the original forecheck," Cassidy said.

 

4. Binnington's rebound control

Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington was the difference in Game 5, when he made 38 saves.

However, he also left rebounds in and around the slot; the Bruins weren't able to get to them because the Blues were good at clearing out the area in front of the net.

Binnington has to do a better job controlling rebounds to take some pressure off his defense.

Video: Binnington's historic performance continues in Final

 

5. Bottom-six shuffle for Blues

Forward Ivan Barbashev is suspended because of his illegal check to the head of Bruins forward Marcus Johansson in Game 5. But forward Robert Thomas will be back after missing four games with an upper-body injury.

Barbashev's absence creates a hole on the fourth line, which when whole has been an effective, physical shutdown line. That line struggled when center Oskar Sundqvist was suspended for Game 3, a 7-2 Boston win. Sammy Blais is expected to take Barbashev's spot with Sundqvist and Alexander Steen. He's also an in-your-face, physical player, but it will be interesting to see if the line can remain as effective as it's been without Barbashev.

Thomas will be back as the right wing on the third line with center Tyler Bozak and left wing Pat Maroon.

Video: News and notes ahead of Game 6 of the SCF

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- Karson Kuhlman

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

John Moore -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, David Backes

Injured: Matt Grzelcyk (concussion protocol), Chris Wagner (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body)

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Zach Sanford -- Ryan O'Reilly -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Sammy Blais -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Joel Edmundson, Robby Fabbri, Michael Del Zotto, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Ville Husso, Jordan Nolan

Injured: None

Suspended: Ivan Barbashev

 

Status report

Grzelcyk has yet to be medically cleared to play, Cassidy said.

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