There’s a Game Seven for the Stanley Cup tonight in Boston. It’s do or die for the Blues and Bruins at TD Garden on NBC. The fun begins at 8 PM on the network that just might have a postgame interview or two along with the traditional handshake before cutting away to the morbid 11 o’clock news.
Here’s hoping it goes three overtimes. That’s what they deserve for not showing any player interview following these big games before the news. Even if most of us can channel flip to NBCSN for the full postgame, it doesn’t make it right.
After all, it is the Stanley Cup! Someone will win and someone will lose. There’s no greater theatre than a deciding Game Seven for the most prestigious trophy in all of sports. It hasn’t happened since the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 to become the second road team in three years to win a seventh game in 2011. They took the final two games to win Lord Stanley for the first time since 1972.
Now, it’s eight years later. This time, the Bruins are trying to become the first team to rally from a 3-2 series deficit to win the Cup twice. Only they are the home team tonight. The last two Game Seven’s haven’t been kind to the host. In 2009, the Penguins held on to beat the Red Wings 2-1 to dethrone the defending champs at Joe Louis Arena. Nicklas Lidstrom was stoned by Marc-Andre Fleury right before the buzzer.
Prior to the ’08-09 Pens and ’10-11 Bruins winning Game Seven on the road, here’s how it went:
May 31, 1987 Philadelphia Flyers 1 Edmonton Oilers 3
June 14, 1994 Vancouver Canucks 2 New York Rangers 3
June 9, 2001 New Jersey Devils 1 Colorado Avalanche 3
June 9, 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks 0 New Jersey Devils 3
June 7, 2004 Calgary Flames 1 Tampa Bay Lightning 2
June 19, 2006 Edmonton Oilers 1 Carolina Hurricanes 3
So basically, the home team had the big edge. The last two have gone to the road team.
Can the Blues make it three for the last three? It’s possible. They’ll have to play a perfect game. That means get off quickly and withstand the Bruins pressure that will only intensity due to the tribute to Boston Red Sox hero David Ortiz. He’s recovering from successful surgery due to a gunshot wound after senseless violence in his home country, the Dominican Republic.
St. Louis needs to stay out of the penalty box. They have taken some very undisciplined penalties in the three losses. That included the dopey Brayden Schenn boarding minor followed by Ryan O’Reilly’s delay of game that allowed Brad Marchand to convert on a two-man advantage. They’ll also need the big saves from rookie Jordan Binnington. After a brilliant Game Five where he stopped all 17 Boston shots in a busy first period en route to 38 saves, he wasn’t as good in Game Six.
The Bruins will want to use the energy of their crowd to get off to a good start. The key match-up remains the same. The vaunted top line centered by Patrice Bergeron against Schenn. Though it’s been O’Reilly who’s done the heavy lifting for the Blues with seven points (4-3-7) in the Stanley Cup. Both Marchand and David Pastrnak came to life last game with a goal and assist each to help stave off elimination. Jake Debrusk played a pivotal role picking up two assists. Tuukka Rask stood tall to thwart the Blues on the power play.
So, who wins? I don’t know. It’s been a strange series full of momentum shifts. It could depend on who can dictate better. St. Louis uses its size and strength to create a heavy forecheck. If they can exert their physicality, they have a chance. Boston uses its defense and quick transition game to counter attack. If they win the puck battles and match the Blues like last game, they’ll win.
It’s worth noting that there are five holdovers from that 2011 Stanley Cup team. They are Bergeron, Marchand, Rask, David Krejci and captain Zdeno Chara. We’ll see if that championship experience is a factor.
Both the Devils and Rangers will be represented either way. If it’s Boston, then John Moore and Marcus Johansson get their names on the Cup. If it’s St. Louis, you’d have Pat Maroon and likely Michael Del Zotto. So yeah. There is a Hudson Rivalry feel.
Enjoy the game. May the best team win.