Berube’s Blues living dangerously, on verge of winning Cup

  • St. Louis Blues' David Perron, center, celebrates his goal behind Boston Bruins' Noel Acciari, right, during the third period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Thursday, June 6, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON — Craig Berube’s bunch likes to live dangerously.

In Game 5 alone, Ivan Barbashev got away with a high hit on Marcus Johansson and Zach Sanford got his elbow up into Torey Krug’s head and avoided a penalty. Alex Steen went straight to the penalty box when he lit up David Krejci in the neutral zone with blatant interference. But Tyler Bozak wasn’t penalized for tripping up Boston’s Noel Acciari seconds before what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

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It all left Bruins fans and coach Bruce Cassidy livid. It left the Blues one win from their first Stanley Cup.

These are Berube’s Blues all the way.

“We play a hard game,” Berube said after the 2-1 win Thursday night that resembled so many of his from a 1,000-game playing career with over 3,000 penalty minutes. “We’re a physical team. We forecheck hard.”

Even though the Blues were the least-penalized team in the playoffs, in the final they’ve taken on the image their hard-nosed coach had as a player. St. Louis is playing with fire with so many borderline hits — some that put Boston on the power play — but it can afford to live dangerously because toeing the line while occasionally stepping over it makes the team so hard to stop.

“That’s become our identity,” Sanford said. “We’ve done a pretty good job of finding that fine line. If we can play on that line and stay disciplined too, that’s what’s made us so successful.”

In what Berube called a “gutsy win,” his blue-collar Blues didn’t miss a single opportunity to hammer Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, playing with a significant facial injury, or anyone in Boston black and gold. The Blues have done this throughout the playoffs.

Their rough-and-tumble play put the spotlight on the officials to police Game 5 like this was the Broad Street Bullies looking for blood and bruises on every shift.

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Cassidy ripped the referees for no call on Bozak midway through the third period, a borderline play at best and at worst another missed call in a postseason full of them.

“It’s blatant,” Cassidy said of Bozak play followed almost immediately by David Perron’s goal that put St. Louis up 2-0. “It had a big effect on the game. This has happened. I’m a fan of the game. It’s the National Hockey League’s getting a black-eye with their officiating in these playoffs, and there’s another one that’s going to be talked about.”

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