Don't Leave Me Tongue Tied
Welcome to the Pregame Skate, a Five Minute Major Upgrade to Your Inbox
ICYMI: We sent out the recording of our LIVE conference call with Andrew Rowe yesterday. Listen here.
Born in the USA
What’s Happening: Laila Anderson—the young Blues fan who has inspired the team throughout the playoffs—got the crowd fired up with a “Let’s Go Blues” chant prior to Game #3. The Blues came out forechecking hard and hitting Bruins players all over the ice, but Boston was able to weather the storm and go on the attack. The B’s hopped out to a 3-0 lead after the first, quieting the excited St. Louis fans.
Tell Me More: The second period was more of the same—an early powerplay goal seemed to rattle goaltender Jordan Binnington, who was pulled later on in the period after giving up five goals on 19 shots. The final result was a 7-2 blow out victory for the visiting Bruins.
Born in the USA: The Bruins are a team full of players from the USA—13 have suited up so far this post season—and several of them factored into the scoring on Saturday. Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciari all scored goals, and defenseman Torey Krug, who hails from Michigan, had a big night from the back end. Krug set up the Bruins first tally of the night and finished with a goal and three assists.
What to do with video review? Last week we raised that question, as officiating has been an issue throughout the post season. Video review factored into the third goal of Game #3—the Blues challenged that the play was offsides, but the Situation Room in Toronto ruled that Joel Edmundson passed the puck back into his own zone, nullifying a potential offsides call.
The Bottom Line: According to the rule book, the officials got this call right, and the ensuing goal that came late in the first period forced the Blues to chase the game for the final two periods. This loss was embarrassing, but Blues fans who are worried about their rookie goaltender can rest assured—Binnington is 6-2 following a loss in the playoffs this year.
One More Thing: Former Blues forward, Patrik Berglund, openly discussed his battle with mental illness during an episode of Andy Strickland’s podcast. Berglund, who said he intends to return to the NHL next season, was sent to Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly trade and decided to leave the Sabres midway through the year.
“Eyes on You” Meets “Old Town Road”
(@chaserice) Chase Rice and Lil Nas X performed during Stanley Cup Live ahead of Game #1.
What’s Happening: There’s a little extra social media buzz at this year’s finals thanks to the “Stanley Cup Live” series which is hosted by former Cup champ Adam Burish and NHL Network host Jackie Redmond. How it works: The two host a live, ten minute show ninety minutes before puck drop, and viewers can tune in on Facebook Live.
“Eyes on You” Meets “Old Town Road”: Country star Chase Rice and rapper Lil Nas X performed their respective hit songs during the live show ahead of Game #1, stopping to pose for a picture with Lord Stanley afterwards. Game #2’s guest was Sports Illustrated cover model Camille Kostek, and Echosmith hit the stage prior to Game #3.
Why It Matters: Celebrities and concerts are one way to create more buzz around the Stanley Cup, especially as the NHL’s marketing minds attempt to turn the casual fans into ones that will follow the game year round. For this particular event, casting it live on social media is helping to expand the audience.
By the Numbers: The NHL debuted “Stanley Cup Live” last year in the final series between the Golden Knights and the Capitals and the response was decent—the show had 2.93 million views and a total reach of 12.3 million. Through just two games this year, the series reached almost half as many people as the entirety of last year’s final (5.8 million impressions across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).
Dig Deeper: Carol Schram, Forbes
Don’t Leave Me Tongue Tied
What’s Happening: The NHL Combine wraps up tonight after a week that gave coaches and scouts a final look at the prospects ahead of this June’s draft in Vancouver. Buffalo hosted the event at the KeyBank Center and Harbor Center.
Who Stood Out: As we mentioned last week, Kaapo Kakko was not in attendance, placing all the attention on Jack Hughes. Despite being undersized at just 5’10” and 170 pounds, Hughes skating ability, puck handling, and execution make him the Johnny Gaudreau-type of talent that can thrive in today’s NHL. The drills at the Combine seemed to highlight these skills, reminding scouts why he has been the top rated player in this age group for so long.
The forgotten third pick of the draft belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks, and they have their eye on defenseman Bowen Byram, who led the Western Hockey League playoffs in points with 26. Byram hasn’t been talked about very much due to Kakko and Hughes, but the numbers he put up are rare in the WHL, making him a near lock at number three.
In Between the Pipes: Spencer Knight is looking to become the tenth U.S. born goaltender to be selected in the first round, and some are even saying that he’s the best goalie the United States National Team Development Program has ever produced. The Boston College commit doesn’t rely on athleticism like first round selections in the past—Jack Campbell and Rick DiPietro come to mind—which could make his transition to the NHL a little more natural when the time comes. By the numbers: Knight had an impressive year, going 32-4-1 with a 2.36 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
Don’t Leave Me Tongue Tied: Good luck to the general managers announcing the first couple picks, as names like Kaapo Kakko and Bowen Byram would certainly leave many tongue tied.
More Links from the Rink
The Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup finals helped this Missouri-native fight prostate cancer.
Derek Boogaard’s mother, Joanne, has written him a letter in each of the eight years since he passed away. Derek suffered from CTE, and Joanne doesn’t think the NHL is doing enough to combat concussions.
Size matters less in the NHL than it ever has—just look at this year’s NHL draft pool.
Kuznetsov cleared by the NHL following a viral video that surfaced last week.
Monday June 3rd: Stanley Cup Final Game #4
St. Louis Blues (C3) vs. Boston Bruins (A2) Monday, June 3, 8:00 p.m.: Bruins @ Blues | NBC | Bruins lead series 2-1