NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask can’t stop a shot by Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson in overtime of Wednesday’s Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston. The series is tied 1-1 heading to St. Louis for Saturday night’s Game 3.

HEY, we’ve got us a series.

And with the Blues hammering their way to tying the Stanley Cup Final (most of it legal), a call has to go out for three missing persons.

The Patrice Bergeron line. The best line in hockey. The Perfection Line.

“We need to be better,” Brad Marchand said after Wednesday night’s overtime loss “Personally, I wasn’t good the last two games, so we can’t be playing like that. It’s taking care of the little details. I think that’s the biggest thing. It will come. That’s how it is.”

The line has scored one goal in two games. Marchand scored into an empty net to cap Game 1. That’s the only point for the trio, Bergeron and David Pastrnak pointless. Having trouble with the Blues’ top line, they are a combined minus-7. And now St. Louis gets the last change with the next two games at home.

Oh, and Bergeron was just 5-8 on faceoffs in the loss — after a 14-6 Game 1.

You have to figure it will change for the top line, which is exactly what happened in the earlier rounds.

Big hits

Now, the physical stuff.

Yes, Oskar Sundqvist deserves to miss a game for his nasty hit on Matt Grzelcyk. And the Bruins will miss Grzelcyk as the defenseman goes through NHL concussion protocol. But the hit, and some of what happened, has to be attributed to Sundqvist being so much taller than Grzelcyk (6-3 to 5-9). It was just a symbol to what the Blues’ forwards did to the Boston D in its own zone.

The size difference is something Zdeno Chara (he has looked very slow in these two games) has lived with all his NHL life. In other words, how do you NOT hit a small guy in the head?

In short, the Bruins were outhit on home ice. By a lot.

Now, they have to answer adversity, something they’ve done all year.

They’ll be good,” Bruce Cassidy said. “They’re going home, their fans will be behind them just like ours are. We went into a hostile environment in Carolina, very loud building, won a couple there. Columbus, won a couple there, Toronto. We got a veteran group, they’ll bounce back, they’ll be ready to go.”“I don’t think at this time of the year the venue will, I mean I’m sure it will help St. Louis but from our point of view we’ll play wherever they tell us to and we just got to play better.”

No more replays

While others around him talked about ways to improve replay, to eliminate things like the puck hitting the netting and staying in play, Marchand has a different view of it all.

“Get rid of video reviews, that’s the problem,” Marchand told ESPN. “When you start bringing in all the video reviews, the refs are getting crucified. They’re out there to do a job. Start taking it away from them, little by little, then it’s going to escalate. Now they’re going to want video reviews for pucks hitting the net or hand passes, so how much are you going to take away from the refs?

“The only way to do it is to do all of it with video review or none of it.”

Still no closer

The Red Sox became a victim of their own strategy in blowing Tuesday night’s game to the lineup formerly known as the Cleveland Indians. In short, with no clear closer, Alex Cora ran out of pitchers and was left with rookie Travis Lakins to lose the game.

Asked afterward if, with his team just 12 for 21 in save chances, there were any thoughts of changing the approach, the manager said, “No, no. We feel that we’ve done an outstanding job so far. So nothing is going to change right now.”

In other words, “we don’t have a closer and have decided to go without one.” OK.

Earlier in the game, Dennis Eckersley, presiding in the booth, declared, “Cleveland is barren (not Barons, like their old NHL team). This is not a good team.” And Terry Francona’s team was about to fall 11 games behind the Twins in the AL Central.

From Alex Speier of The Boston Globe: “Cleveland entered tonight: 0-24 when trailing after 6, 0-23 when trailing after 7, and 0-23 when trailing after 8.”


More ouch? The light-hitting Indians scored 21 runs in nine straight innings over the games. The Indians!

Classy move

After pitching a rain-interrupted six shutout innings, coming off the flu and pitching in terrible conditions, David Price found time to reach out and send a kind word to Indians rookie Zach Plesac after the righty’s impressive MLB debut.

“(Price) told me, ‘Congrats on your debut. Good luck, kid,’” Plesac said. “It’s motivating. It means everything, really. It humbles me too at the same time.

“I’m sure he’s just being the vet he is, taking care of the rookie here pitching my first game at Fenway.” Plesac is the nephew of a former big leaguer and current MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac.

Tough break

Ben Watson thought he was retiring. He then ingested a substance to help heal his body. Then he UN-retired, deciding to come back and play for the Patriots. Oops.

Now, because the substance is on the banned list of things players can take to feel better, he’s out for the first four games of the season. He informed teams he was talking to that he had failed the NFL test.

There’s something about this that sounds VERY wrong. The testosterone he was taking was to help him get over the pain of 15 NFL seasons. Perhaps the league should re-examine its list?

Speaking of the NFL, the players union, which regularly gets its collective butts kicked by the owners, is ready to dig in when the current agreement ends after the 2020 season.

Union head DeMaurice Smith has sent letters to his constituents “advising players to plan for a work stoppage of at least a year in length.”

Let’s see how THAT works out.


Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.