2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

BSJ Playoffs Report: Blues 4, Bruins 2 – B’s lose Chara, Blues punch back to knot series up

(Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS — Everything you need to know from the Bruins’ 4-2 loss against the Blues in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, with BSJ insight and analysis:

Box Score

TWO TAKEAWAYS

Blues forecheck punched back again: You can point to a few missed calls, late hits and some very, very dodgy dives by the Blues throughout the course of Game 4 Monday night. But there’s no overlooking it, the Blues punched the Bruins in the mouth again thanks to a heavy forecheck, and Boston struggled to get much of anything going for most of the night in an eventual 4-2 loss — setting the stage for a pivotal Game 5 Thursday night in Boston. 

The game was highlighted by a stretch midway through the second period in which a buzzing Blues team hemmed in players like Connor Clifton and Charlie Coyle for over three minutes straight — firing four straight shots on goal against Tuukka Rask before earning a trip on the power play. It’s a simple, but effective strategy for the Blues, as St. Louis closed on Boston’s puck carriers quickly and made things difficult for the B’s big guns all night.

Of course, Boston faced a bit of an uphill battle after having to play with five defensemen for the second time in three games — while the team’s top-six once again left quite a bit to be desired. But the Blues deserve plenty of credit for smothering Boston all night.

“We were relentless tonight,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said. “We didn’t stop for 60 minutes.”

Boston’s D corps is getting decimated: Already without Matt Grzelcyk for an undetermined amount of time due to a likely concussion, the Bruins’ D corps took another massive hit in Game 4, as Zdeno Chara exited the game early in the second period after a deflected puck hit him in the face — drawing blood.

After missing the entire stanza, Chara was out on the bench — donning a fishbowl helmet — at the start of the third, but did not play at all. Postgame, Bruce Cassidy acknowledged Chara was not cleared to return for game action, opting to go out on the bench to be with his teammates. Chara’s status for Game 5 is uncertain. Things are starting to get dire for the Bruins, who might have to go with Steven Kampfer or even a 20-year-old Urho Vaakanainen in a Stanley Cup Final if Chara can’t go. As expected, having to play with five D for over half a game added up for the Bruins — but an extended absence for No. 33 could have series-wide ramifications, especially on a Bruins PK that went a perfect 3-for-3 on the night.

THREE UP

Brandon Carlo: After lighting the lamp just twice during the regular season, of course Carlo would be the one to score the equalizer for the Bruins in the second period — and on the penalty kill, no less. Stick tap to Brad Marchand for setting up the play, but great awareness from Carlo to activate and be in position for the second-chance look.

With Carlo lighting the lamp, the Bruins have now had 20 different players score a goal this postseason — a new franchise record.

Charlie Coyle: After scoring seven goals over 44 career playoff games with the Wild, Coyle has now tied Patrice Bergeron for the team lead with nine goals over 21 games this postseason. 

Penalty Kill: Even without Chara for over half the game, Boston’s penalty kill still held its own — with the Blues failing to convert on all three of its bids while landing four shots on goal over 6:00 minutes of 5v4 TOI. So far this series, St. Louis is 1-for-13 on the man advantage.

THREE DOWN

Fourth Line: The Bruins were at the mercy of a suffocating Blues forecheck for extended stretches all night, but the fourth line, in particular, was knocked around. In 7:58 of 5v5 TOI in which the Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari line was out on the ice, the Blues held a 12-2 edge in shot attempts — with Boston only landing one shot on goal.

Power Play: After a perfect 4-for-4 showing from the man advantage on Saturday night, the Bruins power play failed to land what could have been a knockout punch against the Blues — landing just one shot on goal over its two stints on the power play.

Krejci Line: Another disappointing showing from the Bruins top-six tonight, but the Krejci line, in particular, has failed to pull its weight for quite some time, culminating in tonight’s loss — with the trio of Krejci, David Backes and Jake DeBrusk limited to zero high-danger scoring chances in 7:09 of 5v5 TOI.

PLAY OF THE GAME

PARTING THOUGHTS

Not a good look from Vladimir Tarasenko — but it ended up working out in favor of the Bruins — as Carlo scored his shorthanded goal less than a minute later. Puck don’t lie.

As for this play by Jordan Binnington? Yikes.

LOOKING AHEAD

The series will now shift back to Boston, with a pivotal Game 5 set for Thursday night at TD Garden. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.