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Stanley Cup Final

Blues should benefit from long series in Stanley Cup Final against Bruins

Recent history bodes well for St. Louis heading into Game 5

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- The St. Louis Blues seem to benefit from a long series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They're hoping the trend continues against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. The best-of-7 series is tied heading into Game 5 at TD Garden on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"I think so far, each and every series, we've gotten better as the series was going on," Blues forward David Perron said Tuesday, shortly after they arrived in Boston. "And we're certainly looking to do the same thing. We've got to have our foot on the gas from now on. … It's a best-of-3 and again, I think in two days it's another opportunity to be doing that, and we're going to be looking to be that team that gets the next one."

 

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The Blues, who evened the Cup Final with a 4-2 win in Game 4 at St. Louis on Monday, eliminated the Winnipeg Jets in six games in the Western Conference First Round, the Dallas Stars in seven in the second round and the San Jose Sharks in six games in the conference final. Each round, their physicality and heavy forecheck took its toll on the opposition. The Blues were particularly effective against the Sharks' top defensemen, Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, before Karlsson sustained a groin injury.

St. Louis has done the same against Boston, hitting Bruins defensemen whenever possible and creating lengthy shifts in the offensive zone.

"Yeah, it's been good," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I mean Game 1 and Game 3 probably not as good, but Game 2 and Game 4, really good. That's where I rank it right now."

The Blues will look to duplicate their forechecks from their two wins in this series by playing with similar desperation Thursday. They might also benefit from the Bruins potentially being without two defensemen; Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk's availability for Game 5 is unknown.

Chara was bloodied after a shot from Blues forward Brayden Schenn deflected off his stick and hit him in the mouth 3:07 into the second period. Grzelcyk is in concussion protocol following a boarding penalty by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist, who received a one-game suspension, in the first period of Game 2.

But St. Louis knows Boston will be revved up trying to rebound on home ice. The plan to end the pattern of alternating wins involves doing more than expecting there to be carryover from Game 4.

"You know we just have to put the last game behind us, not really think about that," Blues center Tyler Bozak said. "Obviously we're happy with how it played out, but we have to come into the next game with same mindset that we did coming into the last game where it's kind of 'we've got to win this game, it's really important,' and not get complacent."

Video: The Blues forecheck was a key factor in Game 4

Berube said the Blues are built to make it through long series because they "force teams to play 200 feet as much as we can." But it's a lot easier for them to play that way when they limit their penalties and play 5-on-5.

St. Louis gave Boston two power plays (the Bruins didn't score) in Game 4, as opposed to Game 3, when the Bruins went 4-for-4 on four shots. With familiarity breeding contempt, it could be tougher to stay out of the penalty box.

But the Blues intend to maintain their composure.

"I mean, it's a rivalry for sure," Perron said. "I just think that we did a good job last game to stay out of that stuff, and I think going forward we'll look to do more of that. We saw that each team after a loss was able to turn the page and have a good performance, and now that's up to us to find the way to carry the momentum into the next game and play a very similar way."

Bozak said, "We feel our biggest strength is playing 5-on-5, and that's where we want to play the game as much as we can. So, obviously we've got to stay away from the stuff after the whistles. We've got to play between the whistles and be really disciplined. Obviously, there's going to be penalties throughout a game; it's inevitable, but we've got to make sure the ones we do take are worthwhile and in situations where it's not too bad to take one."

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