NBC Sports’ exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final began tonight on NBC, as the Boston Bruins scored four unanswered goals to defeat the St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-2 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
Seven-time Emmy Award-winning play-by-play commentator Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member and analyst Eddie Olczyk, and Emmy Award-winning ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire had the call from Boston on NBC. This marks the 13th consecutive year that Emrick, Olczyk and McGuire have combined to call the Stanley Cup Final for NBC Sports.
Host Mike Tirico opened coverage of Game 1 on NBC from TD Garden in Boston, Mass., which began with a piece on the Bruins and the Stanley Cup featuring actor and Massachusetts native Denis Leary. Click here to watch.
Pre-game coverage began on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET with a two-hour edition of NHL Live. Host Liam McHugh anchored pre-game, intermission and post-game coverage on-site, alongside analysts and former players Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.
Kathryn Tappen and McHugh hosted pre-game and post-game coverage from outside sets in Boston, capturing the scene amongst the fans alongside analysts and former players Jeremy Roenick, Brian Boucher, Anson Carter and Patrick Sharp. Tirico, Jones and Olczyk also joined pre-game coverage outside on NHL Live. Coverage shifted inside the arena at 7:30 p.m. ET with McHugh, Milbury and Jones.
As part of tonight’s pre-game coverage on NHL Live, Roenick spoke with Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo and Tappen interviewed Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.
NHL Live also included a feature on Bruins anthem singer Todd Angilly, who is a probation officer and serves as a bartender on the suite level of TD Garden for Bruins and Celtics games; pre-game interviews with Blues forward Jaden Schwartz and David Backes; an interview with former Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who currently serves as the NHL Director of Social Impact; Tappen and Tirico on the passing of former Red Sox player Bill Buckner; and a look back at Bobby Orr’s iconic 1970 Stanley Cup clinching goal.
Milbury on Bruins’ strong second and third periods: “Things changed when Bruce Cassidy switched up his line matchups. They needed a little bit of a boost and he gave it to them…they went through the next two periods and steamrolled St. Louis.”
Jones on the Blues: “The good news for the Blues is they had a formula that worked for one period. They also have Tarasenko and Schenn and Schwartz playing very well right now, so there’s not a lot of question marks about their top line players. I didn’t think their depth players did a very good job, but that could be attributed to the number of penalties that they took. It took a lot of players out of the rhythm of this game.”
Milbury on Blues struggles in Game 1: “No matter what they say, that they’re not intimidated by not having been there – the Stanley Cup Final is different. Everything about it is heightened and you feel a little differently going into it. They came out with some energy, they looked pretty good, but when the push came from Boston they weren’t able to withstand it.”
Olczyk on Sean Kuraly goal, 3-2 Bruins: “Joel Edmundson started this play by turning the puck over and Connor Clifton started the offense…second chance opportunity and Kuraly finds the puck…the fourth liners go to work.”
McGuire on Kuraly goal, 3-2 Bruins: “What a game for Connor Clifton…he scores the ice-breaker for the Bruins and just got a big assist.”
Jones on Blues’ undisciplined play: “Hooking and holding are not the types of penalties you want to take…the Bruins have gained some offensive momentum from their power play opportunities and really took over in the period.”
Milbury on Bruins’ response in the second period: “(Head coach) Bruce Cassidy saw that the team didn’t have legs. He needed to loosen things up and he changed the matchups…Cassidy pushing the right buttons all year and especially in the second period tonight.”
Emrick on the hard-hitting: “It will be an ‘ice bag night’ after this game is over.”
McGuire late in the period with shots 16-3 in favor of Boston: “The Bruins have clearly shaken the rust off.”
Olczyk on Charlie McAvoy goal, 2-2: “Bad penalty. Puck ends up in the back of the net…the Blues clear the zone, but Charlie McAvoy gets on his horse, the puck goes off of the stick of Alex Pietrangelo.”
Olczyk on Connor Clifton goal to cut Blues lead to 2-1: “The fourth line of the Bruins generates it. Clifton is looking for the blue paint, Kuraly finds the defenseman jumping into the play…the Bruins get a huge response from their fourth line.”
Emrick on Vladimir Tarasenko goal, Blues 2-0: “Just about the time you think everything is safe back there, it is a steal and a score and the Blues are up by a pair.”
Olczyk on Tarasenko goal: “That was a forward back (on defense) – Pastrnak trying to reverse the flow. Chara didn’t read it, Pastrnak turned it over, and the right guy had the puck on his stick for the Blues.”
Milbury on the Bruins slow start: “It looked like the layoff really hurt them. They were sluggish. They had very little forecheck time in the offensive zone. I thought the Blues did exactly what they had to do.”
Olczyk on Brayden Schenn goal, 1-0 Blues: “Jay Bouwmeester makes this play. We talked about the active defense for both teams. Bouwmeester is anticipating the puck will be there…keeps the play alive and Schenn goes far side on Rask, who was a little deep in his net.”
Pre-Game on NBC (8 p.m. ET)
Milbury on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask: “He has been really terrific, but there are doubts. There have always been doubts about Tuukka. The city seems to feel like he owes them something. He was the guy in net when they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers…Tuukka has an opportunity to re-write his legacy and make it an all-positive one in Boston. The only thing in front of him that makes me nervous is that 10-day layoff.”
NHL Live on NBCSN (6-8 p.m. ET)
Boucher on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask: “I have not seen him play this well for this stretch of time in his career. He’s played good at times in his career, but there’s been times when his play has dipped. We haven’t seen that in this postseason…the calmness that he has played with in the playoffs has stood out to me.”
Roenick on the fans in Boston: “I have only seen four Blues jerseys here in this crowd. They were here for four minutes. They looked around, maybe these fans are a little intimidating, and they walked right back out.”
Carter on Blues forward Jaden Schwartz: “It’s that hockey IQ. He’s not the biggest player in the world, but he’s got that ability to find those open spots. He outthinks you. He gets in positions where his size can’t be used against him. He’s gritty, he’s fearless…he’s been a godsend for the St. Louis Blues in this postseason.”
Tappen on Bruins forward and former Blues captain David Backes: “A little bit of gamesmanship going on as well. (Blues captain) Alex Pietrangelo, one his best friends, texted him to wish him luck in the series, and Backes didn’t write him back.”
Olczyk on impact of defense on this series: “I don’t want to say mirror images, but they’re pretty darn close. I look at the back end for both of these teams to be the difference in this series.”
Olczyk on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask: “Best he’s played in his entire career. The 10-day break – that’s the biggest question mark.”
Olczyk’s Stanley Cup Final prediction: “I’d rather tell you who is going to win the Belmont in a couple of weeks…I thought it was going to go the distance so I’ll go with where we are right now (Boston) in seven.”
Jones’ Stanley Cup Final prediction: “I will go with Boston as well. They clearly are the favorite, but this is no gimme. This is going to be a very difficult series.”
Tirico on the recent success of Boston sports teams: “The poor kids who have gone a whole 109 or 110 days since having a day off for a duck boat parade here in Boston (laughs)…it’s truly remarkable. Other cities that might become complacent…Boston fans just become heightened by it – Boston against the rest of the country.”