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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Blues look to get even vs. Sharks in Game 2

Need more from Tarasenko, have faith in Binnington against San Jose

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. The St. Louis Blues will look to even the Western Conference Final in Game 2 against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS). 

On tap
Western Conference Final, Game 2

St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): Before their Game 1 loss at SAP Center, the Blues were 5-1 on the road in the playoffs. They will need to get a road win Monday to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole against the Sharks, who are 7-2 at home this postseason.

 

Need to know

-- The Sharks have won Game 1 in each of the first two series but have lost Game 2 each time. That is a trend they are trying to reverse, says staff writer David Satriano.

-- The Blues are confident rookie goalie Jordan Binnington can carry them in Game 2 against the Sharks. 

-- A big reason the Sharks have been able to adjust to their opponents in the postseason is the "counterpunching" skill of coach Peter DeBoer, says columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika.

-- The Blues need more offense from Vladimir Tarasenko , coach Craig Berube said. Staff writer Mike Zeisberger has the story.

 

Eastern Conference Final 
What We Learned

Here are some takeaways from the Boston Bruins' 6-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 on Sunday: 

Video: Bruins heading to Raleigh with a 2-0 series lead

 

Hurricanes have lost their identity

The Carolina Hurricanes have gotten this far by outworking the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in the first two rounds and being relentless on their forecheck. But they haven't done either against the Boston Bruins in the first two games. That's partly because of the Bruins, who have done a good job of slowing them down through the neutral zone. But other than the second period of Game 1, Carolina hasn't been able to consistently get the puck deep and work its cycle against Boston's defensemen.

"They have been playing solid hockey, but I think in general as a group we haven't done a good enough job of grinding them out," Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said. "We have to be willing to put it behind them and play in their end and do all the things that we know we do well."

Video: Bruins rout Hurricanes to take 2-0 lead in ECF

 

Hurricanes may turn to McElhinney

Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek allowed 10 goals on 52 shots in the first two games for a 5.02 goals-against average and .808 save percentage. Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk's goal from the left circle, which opened the scoring with 4:38 left in the first period, was deflating for Carolina, which had played well up to that point. With Mrazek struggling since returning in Game 1 from a lower-body injury he sustained in Game 2 of the second round against the Islanders, it might be time to turn to Curtis McElhinney. The Hurricanes backup played well filling in for Mrazek against New York, going 3-0 with a 1.56 GAA and .947 save percentage. Coach Rod Brind'Amour wasn't ready to talk about his Game 3 starter in the aftermath of Game 2, but he has to at least consider McElhinney.

 

Bruins roll deep, offensively

The Bruins searched all season for a third line that would cause havoc for opposing teams, trying out prospects and journeymen to find the right formula. They finally found it just as they hit the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the combination of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson transforming their lineup. The third-line production, in addition to the scoring they've received from their defensemen -- including two from Grzelcyk and one from Connor Clifton in Game 2 -- has altered how opponents defend them. It has made the Bruins, who have had 19 different players score a goal in the postseason, a bit of a nightmare to play against. The Hurricanes have had no answers for the depth scoring in the first two games, and it's making Boston increasingly dangerous and confident.

 

Bruins may have figured out Mrazek

In the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins became assured that they had figured out how to beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. They were right, increasing their second chances and eventually causing him to wilt. It seems the Bruins think they might have done the same against Mrazek because of work done by goalie coach Bob Essensa in pregame scouting. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned taking the extra step against him, getting him moving in the crease, talking about similarities with Bobrovsky, and Mrazek "maybe just not quite as quick." With the talented scorers the Bruins boast, getting a spot-on scouting report could be the difference between winning and losing the series -- and perhaps it showed Sunday, when they scored six goals. Now, the question is whether Mrazek will start Game 3 on Tuesday.

 

 Game 2 quick links

-- Matt Grzelyck plays the hero for his hometown Bruins. Staff writer Amalie Benjamin has the story.

-- The Hurricanes did more than lose Sunday, they lost their cool and discipline, writes staff writer Tom Gulitti.

-- Will the Hurricanes switch to goalie Curtis McElhinney for Game 3? Coach Rod Brind'Amour said it's too early to make that decision.

 

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