Game 1 of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals was the biggest Blues game I’ve ever watched. It was quickly supplanted by tonight’s game, and will only be rivaled by future games in this series. The game didn’t go so well for my beloved Blue Note. They were completely dominated in the final two periods and could’ve easily lost 7-2 or 8-2 as opposed to the game’s 4-2 final score. Am I worried? Of course I’m a bit worried. Am I freaking out? Not in the slightest. This Blues team has fed off of adversity, and I honestly don’t believe this series could pan out any other way if the Blues are too hoist Lord Stanley’s goblet. Coach Craig Berube has pushed all the right buttons, and has made seriously savvy in-series adjustments throughout the playoffs. Here are the ones that I’d make following what we saw in game one.
Keep the top line of Tarasenko, Schenn, and Schwartz intact. They all played relatively decent, and Schenn was one of the few Blues players skating with Boston all night.
Time to breakup Thomas, Bozak, and Maroon. They were nonexistent in the second half of the San Jose series, and really bad in game one. Boston is essentially a more talented San Jose, so let’s shake up something that hasn’t been effective since round two. Move Thomas up to line two with O’Reilly and Blais. I love the idea of our regular MVP in ROR skating with two tenacious kids who don’t show fear. Going to need them to rattle Boston’s second line and especially Jake DeBrusk.
Bozak centers the third line with Perron and Sundqvist. Bozak’s playmaking with Perron’s nose for the net + the man who I affectionately call “Hank” could wreak havoc against the slower Boston “grind” lines.
Produce a true checking line of Barbashev, Steen, and Maroon as our 4th unit. Barbie and Big Rig together would bring some thump back to Boston, and I think the Blues need to hit as much or more than they have all year to have a shot against the Bruins.
Line 1: Tarasenko-Schenn-Schwartz
Line 2: Thomas-O’Reilly-Blais
Line 3: Perron-Bozak-Sundqvist
Line 4: Steen-Barbashev-Maroon
Break up Parayko and Bouwmeester – they’ve been our most consistent pairing and we need to spread out their solid play. I can’t believe I’m writing that about Bouwmeester, by the way. He has been my least favorite Blue for the better part of three years, and was a disaster against Winnipeg. Since round one, Jay has been fantastic. I’d like to put him with Pietrangelo. Petro’s horrific game one was overshadowed only by how terrible Joel Edmundson played. Petro’s mishaps didn’t translate to power plays and/or goals like Joel’s, but if you watched like I do you saw them. He couldn’t settle the puck – as my old coach used to say, he had the “hands of a rapist.” Get back to sculpting, Petro.
The Blues miss Vince Dunn. The Spittin’ Chiclets podcast referenced that he may be close to returning, and if he is, I’d like to pair him with Parayko. They’re our two best offensive defensemen, and we need to skate the puck up the ice rather than force passes into the neutral zone in order to have continued success against the aggressive Bruins’ frontline. If Dunn can go, Edmundson has to receive a healthy scratch after his game one performance. Bobby Bortleservice aka Robert Bortuzzo and Hot Carl Gunnarsson can stay together as our third pairing because they’ve been quietly consistent following Dunn’s untimely injury.
Pairing 1: Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo
Pairing 2: Parayko-Dunn (or Edmundson)
Pairing 3: Bortuzzo-Gunarsson
I’m positive these changes won’t all go down, but I’m even more positive we will see a few if not several new looks from Berube tonight. This game is literally the largest game of my lifetime as a Blues fan, and I’m not wigging out. That will only happen if we go down 2-0. Can we please hit the fucking music? PLAY THAT WOMAN’S SONG!