Growing up, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy imagined playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. He’d go to Coldrey Avenue in the west end of Ottawa with his brother and a bunch of buddies and he’d pretend to be Bruins legend Bobby Orr.
“If I didn’t score in Game 7, we lost, we played it again,” said Cassidy. “I never imagined myself, as a kid, coaching it. I’m not going to lie to you. It was as a player. So, here I am. It’s the next best thing.”
Now, Causeway Street replaces Coldrey Avenue and childhood dreams meet reality.
The Bruins and the St. Louis Blues face off in Game 7 of the final Wednesday night at TD Garden. It's the first time Boston's hosted a Stanley Cup Game 7.
For some Bruins, it will be a new, nerve-racking, emotionally overwhelming experience. For others, it will be a familiar, nerve-racking, emotionally overwhelming experience. At least, until they all settle into the rhythm of the game.
Five players — captain Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask — played in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins won that game on the road in Vancouver and claimed the sixth Cup in franchise history. And they did it by overcoming a 3-2 deficit in the final.
The Bruins trailed the Blues 3-2 before evening this series Sunday.
Will history repeat itself at home? Will there be another duck boat parade celebrating another Boston pro sports title — the third in less than eight months? The Bruins and their fans will find out around 11 p.m.
Until then, there’s a handful of veterans in the Bruins locker room who know what to expect and who can offer advice.
“This game is a game of mistakes,” said forward Marchand. “You play the way you know how to play it. We rely on a system. We trust in that and that’s how we’re going to play our game. There are going to be mistakes made on both sides and whoever capitalizes on that is most likely going to win the game.
“You don’t overthink. You don’t change anything from what we’ve done. They’re not going to change anything from what they’ve done. We’re both going to play the same style. We’re going to compete. The puck’s going to bounce a certain way. Calls are going to be made a certain way. And someone is going to take advantage of those opportunities.”
To prepare for what will likely be another extremely physical, hard-hitting game, the Bruins have adopted a business-as-usual mindset. They’ve talked a lot about treating Game 7 like any other game.
“Once the puck drops, we feel we’re prepared to play,” said Cassidy. “I think that’s the easiest way to get through your nerves. ... We’ve gone through checklists of what we want to hit. It will be sticking with our routine. So, hopefully, that calms your nerves just knowing that you’ve prepared this way 107 or 106 times, that’s enough to get you through it early on.”
Added defenseman Torey Krug: “It’s the most exciting game in all of our lives. I think whoever maintains their composure and discipline within their system, how they play, how they approach the game, is probably going to prevail. We have a really disciplined group, led by some great people. We're all pulling for each other. I think that's how we do it.
Rask was asked if anything worried him entering Game 7. He answered with the same calm and composure he displays in goal.
“No, no worries,” he said. “I don’t think you play this long and battle hard just to come here and start worrying about anything. It’s a game. You go out there and execute and hopefully you play your best game and see what happens.”
Facing elimination in the 2019 playoffs, Rask is 3-0. Even more impressive, he recorded shutouts in series-clinching games in the second round against the Columbus Blue Jackets and in the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes. Those performances have made Rask a leading contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the playoff MVP.
But neither Rask nor the Bruins want to get ahead of themselves. Not now. Not with all that’s at stake in Wednesday night’s game. Not with all the childhood dreams that can come true.
This article was originally published on June 12, 2019.
This segment aired on June 12, 2019.