Bobo's here, looks like we have some ballplayers. So let's go!
Based on the practice deployment, it appears that Carl Gunnarsson will not only stay in the lineup, he will move up to play with Alex Pietrangelo. Joel Edmundson dropped down to play with Robert Bortuzzo in today's skate. And as expected, Zach Sanford drew in on the fourth line.
No, I believe Jack Flaherty would still be the ace of this staff.
Sanford is the guy. He was in the pregame warm-ups as the next forward up in Game 2, skating as the extra player in case somebody pulled a muscle or got sick before the start of the game. And in practice today he was on the left side of the fourth line, playing with Ivan Barbashev and Alexander Steen.
A suspension is pretty much automatic when a player is injured on a hit from behind into the boards. Upon further review, the Boston side acknowledged that their guy put himself in a bad position along the wall. He tried to bail on the hit and put himself in a vulnerable spot instead, lowering his head while failing to brace himself against the hit. David Backes originally accused Sundqvist of rising up to deliberately deliver a high hit, but obviously the replay told a different story.
I have no problem with the one-game suspension. Player safety is critical, especially with head injuries. While in this case a player made the decision to put himself in a vulnerable position, Sundqvist could have eased up on the hit. He finished his check instead and Boston lost a key player. I wish today's players would focus harder on self-preservation along the walls, but we see guys leaving himself unprotected all the time.
As much as I'd love to give all the credit to the Colton Parayko/Jay Bouwmeester pairing for shutting down the top line, the fact is that Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak just haven't played well through two games. Marchand made a spectacularly bad defensive read that led to Vladimir Tarasenko's 2-on-1 goal. Pastrnak has passed up a lot of great shots for whatever reason -- and when he had Binnington measured for the potential game-winner in Game 2, he didn't pick a corner. As for Bergeron, there is reason to believe he's just not 100 percent. He's not winning draws like he usually does. Also, Bergeron blamed his line's sloppy zone exits as another factor. So his line spent too much time at the wrong end of the ice.
Hits along the wall are judged differently than big hits in the open ice. Krug's hit on Thomas was a charging penalty during the regular season, true, but then Sundqvist's hit is five minutes and a game misconduct during the regular season. While Bruins fans may consider Oskar a villain, the Bruins toned down their remarks because the replays show that their guy put himself in a terrible spot there. And most of the coverage of the hit I have seen reflected that.
John Mozeliak has been general manager since 2007, so he gets credit for the run of postseason success as well as the responsibility for the last few misses. Give Tony La Russa plenty of credit for that success culminating with the 2011 title. Mike Matheny was a good manager, but not quite a TLR. And obviously Mike Shildt still has everything to prove as a field manager. As for what the Cardinals learned from snooping on the Astros, that was mostly that Houston borrowed heavily from the analytics tools the Cardinals used to gain that edge early in Mozeliak's regime. Jeff Luhnow and his people built those tools and then carried them over to Houston.
But, like you said, it didn't impact the outcome. It wasn't as glaring as Zdeno Chara getting away with chopping Tyler Bozak's stick in two while killing a Game 1 penalty.
Sundqvist has been playing very well, which allowed coach Craig Berube to use his fourth line in a checking capacity. I imagine he will adjust by simply playing his top two lines more now that he has the ability to mnake the last change. Sanford has shown flashes of being a good player, combining size and skill, but he wasn't playing great when he fell out of the lineup. This may be the only chance he ever gets to play in the Stanley Cup Final. So I'd expect a max effort game from him, but there is also the risk of penalty and/or a turnover because he is rusty and jittery.
The ESPN Sunday night crew made that point about Matt Carpenter, noting that his "once size fits all" approach at the plate could shorten his career. Carpenter must adjust against the shift generally and when he is scuffing specifically. The same goes for Kolten Wong, who has been slumping for two months now. And Paul DeJong has fallen into a deep funk as well. The game used to be all about adjustments. Now it's about exit velocity and launch angles. Hitters are turning into robots. Hitting used to be an art form. Yadier Molina is throwback to the old days. He cuts down his swing later in counts to make more contact and he is willing to dump outside pitches into right field. That's how he can remain an effective situation hitter so deep into his career.
The Bruins were thrilled to set a physical tone in Game 1. Careful what you wish for! Experts agreed that these were the two "heaviest" teams left in the playoffs and that has certainly been the cause. Both teams will test their depth in this series.
Bill DeWitt Jr. will have to call a meeting with himself then, because he sets the overall strategy and signs off on all major baseball decisions. That said, clearly Mozeliak and Co. had some expensive whiffs with their pitching and there are reasons to doubt that this team, as constructed today, can make any sort of run. Mozeliak usually makes in-season adjustments and he needs to do that again. If the Chicago Cubs hadn't cooled off, the Cardinals could already be buried in the division race.
He is having a nice year at Memphis, but right now the Blues have Yairo Munoz and Jedd Gyorko in utility roles at the big league level and Drew Robinson and Edmundo Sosa with more pro experience at Memphis. Edman could factor in as early as September, especially if the Cardinals trade some of that field surplus while restructuring their stale roster.
Again, a lot else happened in the first period. The Blues tied the game twice and then won it. And on the play in question, some of the Bruins were way, way behind the play. It would be different if they were buzzing around the offensive zone with six guys inside the blue line.
Sanford has been the player the Blues have prepared for this chance. You could argue for Mackenzie MacEachern or Jordan Nolan, but Sanford played 60 games this season and was in the mix earlier this postseason.
Blues fans need to do their part. Boston fans howled every time a Bruin hit the ice, which was often. That home crowd factor, combined with the penalty call disparity to this point of the series, should give the Blues a chance to earn some calls. But they need to work for those calls, sell those calls as well as the Bruins have sold them, then do something on the power play.
I disagree, When you look at the replay, the point of contact was lower. That's because Blais tried to protect himself from the hit. Also, Blais kept playing after that.
Luhnow's analytics crew played a bigger role in the drafting/player development side when they were here. They get high marks for drastically improving the franchise's ability to select the right guys. The analytics factor into the trades, too, especially with younger guys being acquired. But other factors played into guys leaving, like Stephen Piscotty (mother's illness), Marco Gonzales (durability), Tommy Pham (chronic eye issues, general noisiness), Randal Grichuk (long-established inconsistency) and Luke Weaver (lost command). For a long while there, Mozeliak had the knack for moving the right guy at the right time. He sacrificed the right prospects (Rob Kaminsky, Brett Wallace, James Ramsey, Zack Cox, Tyrell Jenkins) at the right time. But lately we've seen more mishaps like the Luke Voit giveaway.