BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins found out what San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets learned the hard way.
Don't let the St. Louis Blues take a lead.
Craig Berube's team showed all playoffs it could lock down a hockey game better than anyone else in the NHL. Their style of game translates perfectly to playing with a lead, a recipe that led to them finishing off Boston 4-1 in Game 7 and lifting the Stanley Cup.
After the regular season saw an NHL-record 138 multi-goal comebacks, the Blues went 4-0 in the Cup final when taking a lead of any kind on the Bruins and didn't lose a single playoff game when up by at least two goals.
So much of that can be traced back to Berube's changes when he took over as interim coach for Mike Yeo in November. He instituted a north-south brand of hockey that better suited the roster general manager Doug Armstrong put together.
St. Louis showed it could put a stranglehold on opponents when playing with a lead. They finished the playoffs 13-4 when scoring first, 8-2 when leading after one period and 10-1 when leading after two.
Even Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy conceded that the Blues "play a different game" when they're ahead.
Because of how well the Blues defend and even move the puck differently when they're ahead in a game, it gets increasingly difficult over the course of a game for an opponent to come back on the Blues. They also went 4-1 in chances to eliminate a team — and after losing Game 6 on home ice were clinical in holding on to a multi-goal lead in Game 7.
"Goals are scored, no lead is safe," said rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, a big part of making sure Blues' leads were safe.
Binnington came out of nowhere to lead St. Louis to the Stanley Cup. Binnington didn't have the best numbers in the playoffs, or at least not close to his otherworldly regular season, but he was the biggest reason St. Louis won Game 5 to move to the verge of winning it all and made stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced in Game 7.