“I don’t think I’ve seen him play better in his career.” – Eddie Olczyk on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask
“It gives St. Louis a fighting chance to compete with the depth of the Boston Bruins’ forwards.” – Pierre McGuire on the Blues defense
“It’s just a thrill to be headed to this series because there are an overwhelming number of storylines.” – Mike “Doc” Emrick
“I give the edge to Boston, mainly due to experience and some stellar play from guys like Bergeron and Krejci.” – Mike Milbury
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 24, 2019 – NBC Sports NHL commentators Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Pierre McGuire (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst), and Mike Milbury (analyst), as well as executive producer Sam Flood, participated in a national media conference call yesterday, May 23, to preview the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, beginning Monday, May 27, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
For a complete transcript, click here. Following are highlights from the call:
Flood on Boston and St. Louis markets: “Nothing like a flashback to 1970 and the drama of that Cup win in Boston and what that meant to a generation of hockey players and really ignited the hockey boom in that city. You look at St. Louis, a city that is now dominating the first round of NHL drafts, clearly the hockey bug is real and great in St. Louis. To have these two markets to be able to face off in a Stanley Cup Final years later should be a lot of fun.”
Emrick on Bruins-Blues matchup: “It’s just a thrill to be headed to this series because there are an overwhelming number of storylines, and Sam has mentioned one, and that (Bobby Orr winning goal) photograph was on the front door of my office at Geneva College as I taught that next fall in the fall of 1970. But it’s all a part of lore and memory, and memories are wonderful, but we’re about to make some more with a lot of large body forechecking teams. Amidst all the cranes and skeletons of steel around TD Garden and anyone who is going to the series and hasn’t been there lately, there is a lot of that going on. There’s a lot of building going on, but there will be a lot of wonderful story building with this series.”
Olczyk: “Two heavy teams, two big teams, two goaltenders playing extremely well. Tuukka Rask, I don’t think I’ve seen him play better in his career. Depth on the back end, fourth lines that can contribute — so-called fourth lines — I think the sky’s the limit for this series.”
McGuire: “One thing that St. Louis has that a lot of the previous teams that Boston played against [didn’t], is matchup capability on the back end. This is a coming-out party for Colton Parayko. And then you look just a little bit deeper on the lineup for the St. Louis Blues, and you see Joel Edmundson, who has had a tremendous playoff after having a haphazard start, and Alex Pietrangelo, who has just been fantastic for them in every facet of the game. So that’s something to pay attention to if you’re a fan of the Bruins, and it gives St. Louis a fighting chance to compete with the depth of the Boston Bruins’ forwards.”
Milbury: “As the [previous] series went on, I grew more enamored of the St. Louis lineup. You think maybe this is kind of fluky, they started off so badly and then they all of a sudden hit a nice patch. You think the dream is going to end at some point – but it didn’t, they just kept on coming and they kept on impressing. When Game 3 ended, after that non-call on the hand pass, I remember Patrick Sharp in the studio saying, ‘You know, this might be something positive for them,’ and it turned out to be right. [Head Coach Craig] Berube walked in the room and said, ‘Forget it, don’t say much to the media, let’s move on.’ I think the two teams square off pretty evenly on paper. I give the edge to Boston, mainly due to experience and some stellar play from guys like [Patrice] Bergeron and [David] Krejci, who has led the post-season in scoring twice, which puts them in awfully elite company, and a solid defense in [goalie] Tuukka Rask.
Milbury on factors that led to Blues’ mid-season turnaround: ”Two things – the hiring of [Craig] Berube and the emergence of [Jordan] Binnington. It’s pretty much that simple. I think Berube was able to find a way to reach the players that he needed to reach and get the most out of them and they needed to solve what had been an ongoing problem in goal. And not only did he solve it, it became a strong point with Binnington.”
Emrick on Blues goalie Jordan Binnington: “He was 17-9-0 with the Providence Bruins (last year) and Grzelcyk was one of his teammates there, so he got through that last year and he started in San Antonio where the Blues have an American Hockey League team and he wasn’t their starting goaltender this year. Hesat the bench for a while. Finally, they got off to such a sputtering start they gave him a chance to play and he was good. Then they started winning and then came the coaching change and all the rest. It will be fun documenting that when we get time to, once these telecasts begin, but that’s the meteoric rise that he had. And it’s going to be an exciting story for us to document and that will just give you an indication of the conversation I had with him and what it will eventually lead to when we get a chance to share it.”
For more on NBC Sports Group’s Stanley Cup Final coverage, please click here.