Greetings from St. Louis, where the Blues and Boston Bruins will meet Monday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Blues, coming off a 7-2 loss in Game 3 that gave the Bruins a 2-1 series lead, will make a couple of lineup changes. Puck-moving defenseman Vince Dunn, who hasn’t played since he took a puck to the face in Game 3 of the West final against San Jose, is expected to return Monday night. He’s likely to take the place of Robert Bortuzzo, based on the morning skate alignments.
In addition, forward Oskar Sundqvist, who was suspended a game for his illegal hit on Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2, will return and is sure to play a big role on the Blues’ penalty-killing unit. The Bruins converted all four of their power-play chances in Game 3.
Dunn’s return figures to be a boost for the Blues’ offense. They averaged three goals per game over the first three playoff rounds but have scored only seven in the first three games of the Cup Final. “We’re going to get a good player back,” Blues coach Craig Berube said after his team’s morning skate. “It’s going to be intense for him right away but he’ll get into it. And he’ll make good plays with the puck, like he always does.”
Dunn was on a liquid diet for a while after he took a shot to the face during the West final, and he said it has taken him a while to regain his strength and his timing. “It’s tough watching the games and obviously not being on the ice for the games. It’s hard to watch,” he said. “But it’s a special feeling to be a part of this team right now. We’ve done a great job so far. Just kind of watching from above, you kind of see things differently and you can learn a little bit, too.”
Teammate Colton Parayko said he’s eagerly awaiting Dunn’s return and believes it can have an effect Monday night. “He brings a lot of different things. He’s a guy who moves the puck well, he’s fast, he’s got a lot of skill. He can do it all,” Parayko said. “So when you have a guy like that added to the lineup, it’s obviously key, and it’s obviously a big addition.
“He’s a guy who plays quick and moves the puck really well. Sees the first pass. Makes the first play — and that’s a big thing. We’re excited to get him back.”
The Blues also were looking forward to Sundqvist’s return. “It’s huge. Sunny obviously was missed last game on the penalty kill,” forward Patrick Maroon said. “He brings a different element. He plays a two-way game. He can check the best line, he can score, he can just be a good forward off the rush. Obviously we missed him on the PK.”
No changes were expected for the Bruins. Coach Bruce Cassidy was asked his reaction to comments made on Sunday by Berube, who said he didn’t agree with all of the penalties called against his team and wondered how it had gone from the least-penalized team in the playoffs to getting more penalties than the Bruins have gotten. Cassidy said those comments did not lead him to seek any NHL executives to ask about officiating standards.
“If we have a beef, we’ll bring it up, generally with the supervisor. He meets on the day of the game,” Cassidy said, referring to the NHL executive assigned to supervise each playoff series. “I didn’t have too many beefs the other night, apparently they did, so they voiced theirs. But we’ll be ready to go. If they take penalties, hopefully we can capitalize on the power play. That’s one way to sometimes dampen their enthusiasm with their physicality, if you make them pay on the power play. That’s our ultimate goal. But we’re ready for a physical game.
“We’re not going to concern ourselves with the officials until they stink and they go against us, right? I thought, we killed, what, five penalties? They killed four, and one was their own call, they challenged the play [unsuccessfully contending it was offside], so really they only had three infractions against them. I don’t think they favored us in any way, to be honest with you.”