The 3 Bruins Keys to Game 6 Win
Photo Credit: NHL Bruins
It doesn’t get any better than this. You play in a game where the Stanley Cup can be presented afterwards. But in this case, you don’t have a chance to get awarded with the prize; it’s your opponent. You have to find a way how to win to live another day and grant yourself with such a crack at it.
That was the Bruins situation ahead of Game 6 on the road, which the Bruins won. Now the Bruins improved to 6-1 when facing elimination on the road since 2008. Before we talk about Game 7, which is the final game of the Final, the Bruins should dwell on some of the positives they have gathered from Sunday. It might very likely help them on the way of the preparation for the ultimate challenge in Game 7.
The Finnish netminder hasn’t lost three straight games in the season. Rask has been simply outstanding ever since Game 4 of the first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the Stanley Cup Final, he has been good, yes, but not as perfect as the Bruins would need him.
In the first three rounds, Rask has always had two games in each series in which he gave up one goal or less. In his last five games on the road ahead of the up Final, Rask has given up just four goals in five starts. That was pretty impressive. Let’s be absolutely honest here.
Those two rebound goals given up in Game 4 in St. Louis haven’t been solely Rask’s fault. But on the other hand, playing on the road in Columbus or Carolina, the Bruins haven’t been used to that.
It’s unfortunate to say that your goaltender has to do even more than he has done so far in the series and in the playoffs. But with the Bruins struggling for offense over the past two games, an already great Rask needed to take it to another level, and thats exactly what he did.
In Game 6, he made 28 saves on 29 shots and on that 29th shot he made a heck of an effort to keep the puck out. Clearly the best performance for Rask so far in the series, and it was the biggest reason for them returning to Boston for another game.
The Second Line Coming Alive
For the first time in the series, the Bruins second line has come alive, they do exist! Karson Kuhlman should have been in the lineup for a long time. He is a speedy winger that fits nicely with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. After having two assists in six games earlier in the playoffs, the forgotten forward was brought in the lineup and it paid huge dividends for the Bruins.
Krejci was around the puck all night long. On Kuhlman’s goal, he finally registered his first point in the Stanley Cup Final. At even strength, the Czech center had the xGF% at 75.08. DeBrusk had xGF% at 78.73. That line was creating havoc all game long.
DeBrusk scored his first goal of the Cup Final in Game 5, and this time, he was noticeable for more of the game. He provided a huge play, stealing the puck away from the Blues and passing to Brandon Carlo for a shot, which resulted in a game-winning goal of the game for the Bruins.
The St. Louis Blues attempted 59 shots, they got just 29 shots on Rask. The defense definitely played its best game. Zdeno Chara looked comfortable on the ice. At even-strength, Chara had the CF% at 60.61 and the xGF% at 70.60. Brandon Carlo, who scored his third career goal in that building in St. Louis, had the xGF% at 73.66, the best of all Bruins defensemen.
Carlo not only scored a game-winner, but he was also ahead looking to break up play almost all night long. In an elimination Game 6 in Toronto in the first round, Carlo played probably his best career game. This time around, it was something similar. The Bruins did a much better job playing with six good defensemen than experimenting with seven men on the back end.
The Bruins defense showed up at the most important time. The Blues are getting the looks and they were certainly getting the power plays. Before that last-second flurry of the penalties against them, the Blues had four power plays compared to the Bruins’ two combined. The Bruins’ defensemen were able to shut the plays down and help Rask when he left the rebound up for grabs.
These three keys of the Game 6 win can easily apply to the three keys of how to win Game 7 on Wednesday. Maybe this time around, the top line will get the job done. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each had two points, but they haven’t been as noticeable as the second line. Nevertheless, the Bruins will need to somehow win Game 7. At home. Nothing else matters. Stats go out the window. All they have to do is win.