The Boston Bruins walk away from Game 1 with a win and the spark came from an unlikely source. Rookie defenseman Connor Clifton brought his best in his first Stanley Cup Finals game and did they need it.
The Bruins looked sloppy and couldn’t get anything going in the first period and were quickly down 2-0 to start the second period. They couldn’t generate much offense and if the Blues notched another it could’ve gone from bad to worse for the B’s. But an unlikely spark plug hit the ice and started making plays. The New Jersey native Connor Clifton was all over the ice making clean pinches and jumping up in the rush with the forwards. He looked confident early on and just kept trying to get some offense going for the struggling Bruins.
Then on the rush with Sean Kuraly he was able to sneak in behind the defense and angle his skate enough for the puck to bounce up and float by the waving Binnington. Clifton earned his first career Stanley Cup goal and got the energy flowing for the Bruins in the second. Clifton, who attended nearby Quinnipiac University, has been on a crazy journey this year and probably shouldn’t even be on the roster right now. With the injuries that Bruins stacked up this year on defense, Clifton was forced into action. With most of his year spent in Providence, he has become a name known to most Bruins fans because of his heavy hitting play and his instinctual skating ability. The Bruins and Bruce Cassidy like to call the way he plays “Cliffy Hockey” because he plays off of his instincts and it’s done well for him so far. He also drew a penalty which also gave Charlie McAvoy the opportunity to score his game-tying goal later on in the second.
Clifton was also very sound defensively and only allowed 3 shots to the Blues in the second period, which is the reason he is on the ice. With an injury to Kevan Miller and John Moore being a healthy scratch he played with Matt Grzelcyk and the two were a great tandem for the Bruins later in the year. It’s exciting to see somebody who wasn’t really on the roster bubble early in the year and then come up and make such an impact in a game of this magnitude in his rookie year.
Clifton and the Bruins will try to keep the same energy going tonight when they try to go up 2-0 in the series in an attempt to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Blues are going to come out strong and having young guys with poise and instincts like Clifton can help immensely especially with Miller up in the press box.
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