Orfao: Bruins gift New England fans something new – a Game 7 in Boston

  • Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) joins the celebration after Brandon Carlo, right, scored a goal against the St. Louis Blues during the third period of Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Sunday, June 9, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane) Scott Kane

  • Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask blocks a shot against the St. Louis Blues during the first period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final Sunday in St. Louis. AP

  • A St. Louis Blues fan reacts as the Boston Bruins pull ahead during Game 6. AP

  • Boston Bruins center Noel Acciari (55) rounds the net against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) during the third period of Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final Sunday, June 9, 2019, in St. Louis. The Bruins won 5-1 to even the series 3-3. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Jeff Roberson

  • Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) reaches for a rebound in front of St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) during the first period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday in St. Louis. The Bruins and Blues will play Game 7 Wednesday night. AP

Monitor staff
Published: 6/11/2019 8:43:54 PM

It felt like New England’s big four had already given us every spectacle we could have imagined over the past two decades. The Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins have combined for 18 championship appearances and have won 12 – so far.

There’s been nine heart-thumping trips to the Super Bowl, four successful appearances in the World Series, a pair of clashes between the NBA’s greatest rivals and now a third chance to claim the Stanley Cup after experiencing both ends of the spectrum in two previous showings.

Even with the countless twists and turns throughout the last 20 years, Wednesday night will give us something different: Game 7 in Boston with a championship at stake.

The Bruins have never hosted a Game 7 in the Cup Final and the last comparable scenario unfolded at the Boston Garden as the Celtics prevailed over the Lakers, 111-102, to conclude the NBA Finals on June 12, 1984.

Thirty-five years to the day, a Game 7 is happening again.

With two days off to digest the matchup, there is no shortage of narratives heading into the biggest game Boston has hosted since the opening week in theaters for Ghostbusters.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind as the drama unfurls:

Saving a legacy

Boston’s veteran core – Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask – all had their names etched on the Stanley Cup after the triumphant 2011 Game 7 shutout in Vancouver. However, Rask still has something to prove.

Rask sat behind Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas in 2011, while Chara, Bergeron, Marchand and Krejci all played pivotal roles. It didn’t help Rask’s reputation that he was in net as the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia in the 2010 playoffs.

Rask should have earned some goodwill in 2013 after a dazzling display against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals – he allowed two goals during the four-game sweep – but it seems many fans were understandably far more fixated on the two goals he allowed in the last two minutes of Game 6 in the Cup Final as Chicago clinched the title with a stunning 3-2 win.

Despite earning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie in 2014 and eventually becoming the franchise’s all-time wins leader, the past five years have left Boston fans wanting more from their handsomely paid goaltender.

Wednesday will give Rask the chance to silence his critics once and for all.

Sorry, St. Louis

When thinking of Boston’s greatest rivals, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and Montreal Canadiens are the first to come to mind. But it’s quite possible no city should despise Boston more than St. Louis.

The Red Sox have denied the Cardinals two World Series titles. The legend of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady started with an improbable upset of the St. Louis Rams. And for anyone in St. Louis who still adores the Rams despite their move to California, the Patriots beat them again in February.

The Bruins can be the latest team to leave St. Louis in disgust.

Final chapter

The theatrics of a Game 7 will affect some more than others. The Bruins are the far more experienced team and conventional wisdom suggests that should benefit Boston on the sport’s greatest stage.

The Blues are rugged, though, and they will likely try to bait the Bruins into unnecessary penalties. It’s up to Boston to prove it’s the more disciplined team with a Cup on the line.

There’s little reason to doubt it.

The Bruins have answered the call in every trying moment of this memorable ride. They trailed the Maple Leafs three times before winning the final two games of the best-of-seven opener. The Blue Jackets had a chance to go up 3-1 on their home ice. The Hurricanes led Game 1 heading to the third period until the Bruins exploded with four goals to set the tone for a sweep. And of course, the B’s showed their mettle again Sunday during an elimination game in St. Louis.

The story of this season still has one more chapter, and in the end, narratives won’t matter.

Game 7 is going to be at least 60 minutes of madness between two teams that have developed quite a distaste for each other. It’s a simple truth, but superior execution and perhaps a little bit of luck will determine which city throws a parade in a few days.

It will be the most recent tale in an absurd collection of New England sports memories. Soak it in. There’s never been one quite like it.

(Jason Orfao can be reached at jorfao@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JasonOrfao)

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