Who's to blame: Blues' dismal PP laid another egg in Game 6

Kyle CantlonNHL Editor
Ryan O'Reilly and the Blues' power play hasn't been able to solve Tuukka Rask and the Bruins penalty kill. (Getty)
Ryan O'Reilly and the Blues' power play hasn't been able to solve Tuukka Rask and the Bruins penalty kill. (Getty)

Twelve shots, zero goals, and a failed opportunity to put the Bruins to bed.

The Blues’ special teams, in particular their power play execution, has been dismal all series. They were able to generate more flow and sustained pressure on the PP in Game 6 than they have all series but once again had nothing to show for it.

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St. Louis had eight full minutes of 5v4 power play time in Game 6. They controlled 95 percent of the possession while posting those 12 shots, along with 11 scoring chances and seven high-danger chances. That’s a lot of squeeze, but not a lot of sweet, sweet juice to show for it.

None, actually. Generate all the chances and pressure you want, but if your PP consistently gets outscored on a game-to-game basis things aren’t going to end well.

The Bruins have simply been more opportunistic on their limited chances than the Blues have, outscoring St. Louis heavily with the man advantage through six contests. On Sunday, Boston had just two power plays but converted on one of them for the crucial opening goal in Game 6.

Sure, bad luck and a locked-in Tuukka Rask have a little to do with it, but a lack of execution in high-danger areas with the man advantage has been the the real issue for the Blues this series.

They’ve looked stationary, uninspired, sloppy and even a little confused with the man advantage at times, unable to match the intensity and execution the Bruins’ penalty kill has provided. They’ve made rushed decisions with the puck as the Bruins have tightened gaps and left absolutely no space for St. Louis’ skilled guys to work with. Within those tight confines, the guys in blue have seemed a little panicked.

And through the entirety of the series, it’s been the same story.

The Bruins have converted on 33% of their opportunities (7-for-21) in the series compared to the Blues’ clip of 5% (1-for-18). Boston tallied four of those markers in a 7-2 route of St. Louis in Game 3, but the Bruins have scored on the PP in all but two of the games during the Stanley Cup final, with the Blues finding the back of the net in only one.

Boston has outscored St. Louis 21-14 in the series in all situations, with the B’s burying six more times on the power play. Between special teams prowess and goaltending, it’s pretty clear what the difference in this series has been.

Just how ineffective has the Blues power play been in the final? Historically bad.

Four teams have gone 1-for-19 in the Stanley Cup final since 1967, while the 1983 Oilers lost to the dynastic Islanders after posting a 1-for-20 clip. Another futile mark in Game 7 will see the Blues take the belt in a category they certainly want no part of.

Certainly not ideal, but also not insurmountable, as both teams have one game to make or break their season. If St. Louis can slip a couple by Rask when it counts, then this article will be rendered obsolete and I’m totally cool with that.

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