2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

A few words from Craig Berube have shifted the entire course of Stanley Cup Final – and put Bruins on the brink

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Craig Berube had a bone to pick last week.

The bench boss of the St. Louis Blues had good reason to be irate, given the fact that his team was shellacked by a score of 7-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On a night in which 12 different Bruins skaters recorded a point, most of the damage inflicted by Boston still came by way of a potent power play that was cashing in on over a third of their attempts entering the contest. Of their four stints on the man advantage during Game 3, Boston lit the lamp on all four bids, needing just four shots to chase Jordan Binnington and hand St. Louis a lopsided loss in their first Cup Final game on home ice in 49 years.

There was plenty that Berube could have harped on in the immediate aftermath of such a brutal result: a call to arms for what was a leaky Blues penalty kill, an emphasis on throwing their weight around against a top-six unit for Boston that had still failed to break out during 5v5 play.

No, instead, he opted to point out the discrepancies in the number of calls levied against his club, when compared to the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Averaging a little under three infractions per game going into their series with Boston, the Blues were called for 17 penalties during their first three outings against the B’s — exceeding their total from their six-game, first-round series against the Jets and matching their sum from a seven-game bout against the Stars.

In fact, the case could be made that the Blues should have been called for even more penalties during those three games, with Game 3 alone featuring a high hit from Sammy Blais on David Backes and a dangerous attempt by Brayden Schenn that David Pastrnak was able to evade.

Still, after seeing his club get eviscerated by Boston’s power play (six for 17 to open series), Berube believed that something else had to be afoot when it comes to calls on the ice.

“We’re the least penalized team in the league in the first three rounds and now all of the sudden, we’ve taken (17) penalties in one series, so I don’t know,” Berube said last Sunday. “I think that we can definitely be more composed after the whistles … but like I said, we’re the least penalized team in the league coming into this series, so I don’t agree with all the calls.”

Based on the way this series has evolved since then, it appears that the NHL has concurred with Berube’s sentiments. And now, it’s put the Bruins on the brink of a crushing postseason exit.