BOSTON – David Perron was scrounging for a momentum jolt, unfortunately he ended up providing one for the wrong team.
By pretzelling and pounding away at Torey Krug deep in the Blues zone and well away from the play, Perron was hoping the Boston Bruins defenceman might get agitated, throw an extra shot and commit a penalty.
After seizing a 2-0 lead one minute into the second period, the Blues spent the next 39 minutes under siege, undisciplined and overwhelmed. So, Perron pulled out the kitchen sink and pulled off Krug’s helmet.
“I don’t know what kind of Twister game they were playing in front of our net,” David Backes said.
Desperate times call for bizarre measures.
“When you feel like you’re not generating momentum, you try to do something to change it — personally, for example,” Perron explained of the play. “You’re trying to generate momentum. It’s a long series. You’re trying to show them it’s not going to be an easy one, regardless of the score.”
Instead of going off for a change, a livid, bucket-free Krug raced down the ice to join the action and bowled over Blues rookie Robert Thomas something nasty at peak glide.
Torrey Krug is a savage
— Matt Dumba (@matt_dumba) May 28, 2019
The check sent the locals onto their feet and into a frenzy, cheering as loud for The Hit as any of the four unanswered Bruins goals or the showings of Patriots owner Robert Kraft (waving a rally towel) or country star Chase Rice (chugging a beer) on the Jumbotron.
“Oh. That gave me some goosebumps,” Backes said. “He thinks he’s playing 30 or 40 years ago. That was an exchange that was Torey Krug establishing himself in this series.”
Added David Pastrnak: “He just got a haircut a couple of days ago, so he was looking pretty good.”
Krug’s ability to make an impact on the game without committing a penalty provided an exclamation mark on a Bruins’ 4-2 Game 1 victory Monday that felt more like 8-2, as the Blues squandered a superb road start and were dismantled in clinical fashion by the more experienced home side.
Until this loss, the quick-starting Blues had gone 9-1 this post-season in games they had scored in the first six minutes. But the poised and soaring Bruins, now winners of eight straight, are a different animal.
When it unravelled for St. Louis, it did so spectacularly.
“You could feel them coming, and they were coming hard,” rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington said. “The rink was buzzing.”
Boston flexed its depth, generating goals from active defencemen and engaged fourth-liners. When the Bruins decided to nullify the Blues’ frightening forecheck, they looked slow and out of sorts.
Repeatedly, they pleaded with referees Steve Kozari and Kelly Sutherland for make-up calls that never came. It was as if they knew generating quality chances 5-on-5 was a lost cause.
“We didn’t get to our game at all. We turned over pucks, didn’t support each other, started flipping the puck a lot, weren’t making a whole lot of plays. It forced us to defend a lot,” said Brayden Schenn, who scored the Blues’ first goal and set up winger Vladimir Tarasenko for the other.
“What did we have, 15? 16 shots? [Actually, 20 on Tuukka Rask.] That’s not enough. He’s a world-class goaltender. We’ve got to not only shoot more pucks, we didn’t get enough traffic around him — tips, screens. We didn’t make it very hard on him tonight.”
The high-danger chances were 10-3 in favour of Boston, which also authored 60 per cent of the game’s shot attempts.
“It started with penalties. We took too many penalties, and then the second period we didn’t play very good,” defenceman Jay Bouwmeester said.
Take five mostly careless minors — including Perron’s offensive-zone trip of Danton Heinen — against the playoff’s best power-play squad, one that rolled through three rounds at a 34 per cent clip, and you can’t act shocked when you get burned.
“You have five penalties, it takes a lot of guys out of the game, and that burns up a lot of energy from other guys that are killing all the time. It’s too much,” coach Craig Berube lamented.
“We’ve got to be more disciplined. Calls are calls. That’s the way it goes, and we’re not going to complain about it. We’ve just got to be better.”
Boston outshot their visitors 18-3 in the middle frame, and St. Louis endured an excruciating 12:49 stretch in the middle of its loss without a puck on net, a steak that was snapped by a long-range Patrick Maroon muffin that hit Rask smack in the logo.
The Blues are smarter than this, better than this. Much. They need to show it.
“There was no flow. We didn’t have the flow of the lines one after another getting to our game, getting on the forecheck. It was sporadic, so we didn’t get it turned around good enough,” Berube said. “It’s obviously a big thing. We’ve been real disciplined most of all playoffs, pretty much. We weren’t tonight.”
And that played right into the Bruins’ hands.