STL-BOS Cup Final is underway, Bart Starr & Billy Bucks R.I.P

Marc Elliott

Bart Starr versus the Minnesota  Vikings at Met Stadium
Bart Starr versus the Minnesota Vikings at Met Stadium

CHISHOLM… Game One of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final is complete and after getting behind in a 2-0 early second period deficit, the Boston Bruins have prevailed over the STL Blues in a 4-2 final. This Final has been much anticipated over the past few days with the Bruins being off since winning the Eastern Conference Championship on May 16th and then having the past 10 days off. The Blues had been off since the 21st having beaten the San Jose Sharks for the Western Title. I heard a stat last week that teams that have had at least 10 days off before beginning the Final lost it about 70% of the time. I also read that teams that win G1 of the Final win the Cup 69% of the time. So, what to think about this data? The Washington Capitals lost G1 in last years Final and ended up winning the next 4 games and Lord Stanley. Stats, schmats I guess. 

Since I’m on a relatively poor streak of prognosticating I don’t think I’m going to offer one up on this series. It is worth noting that the Bruins are a heavy fan and Vegas favorite. For instance, the Blues are a 15 to 1 favorite to win the Cup in 4 games, while the Bruins are at 10-1. As the number of games goes up needed to win the Cup, the odds go up in favor of the Bruins. As great of a story as the underdog Blues are, in early January you could have got a 300-1 future on them, as they were in last place in the entire league. A simple $100 bet would get you $30k if the Blues were to win the Cup. Prior to this evenings tilt, I wasn’t buying on to the theory that the Bruins were some sort of overwhelming favorite. Most fan and media picks were going to the Bruins in 6 games with netminder Tuukka Rask winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the tournament MVP. If the Bruins do win, I could see that. 

But, on the other hand, if I’m going with the total positive karma that seems to be with the Blues at this moment, I kind of see this series as a pickem’. Yeah, I know, that makes little sense after seeing the B’s paste the Blues tonight. But I have reason to believe that the Blues will break down this game, make some adjustments and play a better G2. It would be in their best interests to depart this trip to Boston with a split. If they don’t, winning 4 of the remaining 5 tilts to be able to hoist the Cup would be a tall order for any club. I’m no fan of the Bruins, but it’s clear they have a very good club. A G2 victory this Wednesday eve is about as “must win” as it will get in this series. Are the Bruins just way better then I give them credit for? That is a possibility. But as has been stated before, it’s not a series until someone loses a home game, or the old Mike Tyson quip, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. 

Well, the Blues got punched in the mouth tonight. They squeaked out a 1-0 lead in the 1st period, but as the game went on and the Bruins began to get their skating legs activated again, they made the Blues look lethargic. STL went up 2-0 early in the 2nd and the B’s got one back 1:16 later and then tied it just after the middle of the frame on a PP goal from Charlie McAvoy. The Blues were outshot 38-20 for the game including an 18-3 2nd period which saw the Blues go 12 minutes plus without a SOG. The Bruins took command of this game from this point on. In the latter stages of the 2nd I got the notion that the G1 experience was like a big field trip to an amusement park for the Blues. As the clock continued to move the Bruins were becoming more focused and the Blues seemed as if they were looking around thinking, man, which ride do we go on next as their effectiveness and quality of play wore down. 

For G2 I think the Blues are going to have to impose their physical game on the Bruins and begin the process of wearing them down. If effective this would serve the Blues later in the series. Late in the 3rd Big Zdeno Chara took a forearm injury and it didn’t look too good. If he is unable to play in G2 this could be a series altering matter. But the clubs that get this far all have depth or they wouldn’t be there. From the moment the Bruins got their first score the Blues did not look engaged from that point forward. Can they get locked in and take charge? We will see…

GREEN BAY PACKERS GREAT Bart Starr passed away over the weekend. Growing up not far from the old Met Stadium as a kid, I got to see Starr play a handful of times. Despite my Viking allegiance all I can say is that Starr was not only one of the Packer greats, he was also one of the all-time NFL greats and one of the greatest human beings in all of sports history. He was class personified and admired by fans and foes alike. I think it is safe to say there won’t be another like him, he was that special…

RED SOX ICON Bill Buckner passed away today at the age of 69 from Lewy Body Dementia. 
As I considered that, I had to keep thinking to myself that he was only 69 years old. That’s too young to go. It’s not a stretch to say that Bill Buckner is an all-time great. His career included 5 teams, 22 seasons and 2,715 hits. That’s impressive. It has bothered me for some time that he had mostly been remembered for one of the most infamous World Series errors in baseball history. In the 1986 WS Game 6 versus the NY Mets Buckner missed a ground ball in front of him, it allowed the Mets to win that game, they then came in and won G7 and the title. Quite a few of the Boston fans never forgave him and as is the classless behavior of some depraved sports fans, he was treated quite poorly until after a final 2nd stint with the BoSox, he retired and the fan criticism and mistreatment of him led him to leave Boston and move to Idaho. I’m glad to say that things were eventually patched up between he, the fans and the club and he was honored with a chance to throw out the 1st pitch at Fenway Park in 2008. I saw that game in 1986 and recall how bad I felt for him even though I wasn’t a Sox fan. RIP Bart and Bill…. PEACE