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Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup Final debated by NHL.com before Game 5 between Blues, Bruins

Experts split on who will prevail with series tied

by NHL.com

Through four games of the Stanley Cup Final, little has separated the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins.

The best-of-7 series is tied heading into Game 5 at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS) with each team having won once at home and once on the road.

So who will win two more games and the Cup? We asked the NHL.com staff members who have covered the series. 

 

Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Pick: Bruins in 7

Original pick: Bruins in 5

Clearly my original prediction of five games isn't going to work out, but I'm not changing my pick. I've watched this team from its beginnings at the 2018 NHL China Games back in September, watched the players bond while carrying each other piggyback on the Great Wall of China -- well, just Brad Marchand carrying David Pastrnak, really -- and watched them overcome injuries to defensemen all season. They have a major stumbling block right now, with injuries to Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk, but this team was made for this moment, even if most of us never expected it to get here. Even though I now think it will take seven games, the feeling remains the same: The Bruins win the Stanley Cup.

 

Tim Campbell, staff writer

Pick: Bruins in 6

Original pick: Bruins in 5

It's yet another series of game-by-game responses, and based on the math and sequence of games, this favors the Bruins. The eye test also has me leaning Boston's way. When the Blues have played well in the Final, the games have been extremely tight with St. Louis winning both. When the Bruins have played well, things have not been as close. It's worth noting that in Game 1, though the Bruins led by one in the third period and closed it out with an empty-net goal, that result, to me, was never in doubt once Boston ramped up its game in the second period. Looking ahead, though the Bruins' top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak has not scored a 5-on-5 point in the series, I think that line could very well be the difference from here.

Video: Superlatives for Blues, Bruins ahead of Game 5

 

Nick Cotsonika, columnist

Pick: Blues in 6

Original pick: Blues in 6

For once, I haven't been wrong (yet)! This series is going a lot like the Western Conference Final between the Blues and the San Jose Sharks. The Blues lost Game 1, won Game 2, lost Game 3 and won Game 4. The longer the conference final went, the more the Blues wore down the Sharks, and the more the Sharks were beaten up. If the Blues can keep forechecking and pounding the Bruins, especially if Boston doesn't have Chara, they'll play "Gloria" in the end.

 

William Douglas, staff writer

Pick: Blues in 7

Original pick: Blues in 7

I see no reason to leap off the bandwagon now. St. Louis has shown it can take Boston's best punch and bounce back. With six points (three goals, three assists) in the Final, Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko is looking worthy of the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He may be able to do more damage if Chara is out. If goalie Jordan Binnington can raise his game a notch, the Blues will prevail in Game 7 at TD Garden.

 

Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Pick: Bruins in 6

Original pick: Bruins in 6

Injuries to Chara and Grzelcyk are a major concern for the Bruins, but I'm sticking with my pick from before the series. The Bruins will have to depend on goalie Tuukka Rask more than in the past two rounds of the playoffs with their defensemen depleted. Rask leads the playoffs with a 1.96 goals-against average and .938 save percentage (minimum five games played), and this will be his opportunity to lock up the Conn Smythe Trophy. Additionally, the line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak is due to break out. 

 

Tracey Myers, staff writer

Pick: Blues in 7

Original pick: Blues in 7

There's no reason to change my original pick. My biggest concern regarding the Bruins is their injured defensemen. The Bruins have done well in tapping into their depth, but if they're without Chara and Grzelcyk, I just wonder if that's too much for them to overcome against the Blues, who just got two key players back -- defenseman Vince Dunn (upper-body injury) and fourth-line forward Oskar Sundqvist (one-game suspension) -- in Game 4. 

 

Shawn P. Roarke, senior director of editorial

Pick: Bruins in 7

Original pick: Bruins in 7

The advantages the Bruins had in this series, mainly their depth at defenseman and top-line superiority, are slipping away. But the Bruins are still better -- based on the statistics and the eye test -- at one spot: goalie, which is the most important position this time of year. Binnington has been good, but not as good as Rask, who has a .919 percentage in the Final, compared to .882 for Binnington. In a series this close, Rask will be the ultimate difference-maker.

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer 

Pick: Bruins in 7

Original pick: Bruins in 7

Rask hasn't stolen a game yet, but he will. The Bruins' top line has been stymied at even strength. That will change. The Bruins would play two of the next three at home, where they are 7-4 in the playoffs and will have the last change to get the matchups they want. I am worried about their injuries on the back end, but this gives Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo a chance to shine. Don't underestimate them. And I have been impressed throughout the playoffs with the adjustments Boston coach Bruce Cassidy has made from game to game. Add it all up, and I am sticking with my original prediction.  

 

Dave Stubbs, columnist

Pick: Blues in 7

Original pick: Bruins in 6

I picked the Bruins before the Final began, but this is the guy who was 3-11 in the 14 prior series. A Boston win would improve my batting average, but I'll sacrifice that fractional bump by choosing the Blues. My pick is not based on hard statistics, but for two abstract reasons. First, there is destiny. The Blues have already been a great story, but going from the cellar in January to the penthouse in June would be a Gloria-ous tale we'd talk about for ages. And then there is Blues hockey operations senior consultant/assistant Larry Robinson. The Hall of Famer has his name on the Stanley Cup nine times, six as a Montreal Canadiens player, three as a coach and executive with the New Jersey Devils. With ten, he'd have a nice, round number.

 

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

Pick: Blues in 7

Original pick: Blues in 7

The Bruins depth on the back end is thinning by the game, and injuries are a definite concern for Cassidy. The Blues know it and will try to further exploit it. With Grzelcyk and Chara hobbled, expect St. Louis to focus its physical game on McAvoy and Krug. The Blues grinded their way through the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Sharks in the first three rounds, so look for more of the same as this series goes on. The return of Dunn has brought speed and playmaking at the perfect time.

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