The NHL has not had a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals since 2011, when Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand scored two goals each to lead the Boston Bruins past the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 for the franchise’s last championship.
Bergeron, Marchand, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask were all members of that team, and they all will play a key role Wednesday night in Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden in Boston.
Rask will play a much bigger role against the Blues than he did in Vancouver when he was the backup goalie to Tim Thomas in that title game.
The Bruins have a core group of players who have experienced two Stanley Cup Finals; the other was in 2013, when they lost to Chicago in six games. That experience will presumably give them some advantage, but St. Louis can negate that by scoring the first goal or establishing their physical presence.
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Stanley Cup Final, Game 7
Series standing: St. Louis 3, Boston 3
Date: Wednesday, June 12
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream:NBC Sports Live
Odds( per Covers): Boston -167 (bet $167 to win $100); St. Louis +135 (bet $100 to win $135)
The Blues lost Game 6 and an opportunity to win the first Stanley Cup in team history in front of their home fans at the Enterprise Center. The city was at a fever pitch and rife with anticipation of a title celebration, but the Bruins had the edge from the start.
Interim head coach Craig Berube has to get the Blues back on track. There are a number of positive things he can lean on to build his team’s confidence, including the Blues’ 9-3 playoff road record along with rookie goalie Jordan Binnington’s ability to bounce back after a defeat, but those factors may not be enough to prepare the team to play its best game.
Just as Berube must build his team up, Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy cannot allow his team to feel any overconfidence. The Bruins showed off their skill and speed, and they either matched or exceeded the Blues in physical play in Game 6, which they won 5-1.
Scott Kane/Associated Press
The Blues have consistently been able to get their forecheck going and possess the puck in the offensive zone. That was true Sunday night, but their shot attempts were either blocked by the Boston defense or Rask. If the Blues can establish that forecheck early, they may be able to dictate the pace of Game 7.
Game 7 at home should be an advantage for the Bruins, but Chara and Bergeron have had some painful failures in addition to some notable wins.
Boston lost a second-round series to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009, dropping the seventh game at home in overtime. The following year, it infamously lost the seventh game to Philadelphia Flyers, building a 3-0 lead in the series as well as in that game before blowing a 4-3 decision to the visitors.
The B’s lost a seventh game in overtime at home to the Washington Capitals in 2012. They also dropped a seventh game at home to the Montreal Canadiens in 2014.
On the positive side, they had two remarkable seventh-game playoff wins at home in 2011 against the Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. Nathan Horton was the hero in both games with the overtime goal against Montreal and the only goal late in the third period against the Lightning.
The Bruins also have beaten the Toronto Maple Leafs in seventh games in 2013, ’18 and ’19. The ’13 game saw the Bruins come back from a three-goal deficit midway through the third period to tie it before winning in overtime on a score by Bergeron.
The seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final could be magical. This will be the 17th in NHL history, with the home team having a 12-4 record.
The Bruins have advantages in speed and talent, while the Blues can gain an edge with their physical game. Bergeron, Marchand, Chara, Krejci and Rask represent the Boston edge in experience, and all are the kind of players that can take over a game.
Bergeron has shown he can take over in the seventh game several times, and he will do it again. Boston takes a close game and wins the seventh Stanley Cup in team history.