By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Are you feeling happy and relaxed this morning without a care in the world? Get your tranquility in before 8 p.m. tonight. After that, we’re all in for a world of anxiety and uneasiness.
Shortly after 8 p.m., after the two teams have been introduced and a banner donning the Spoked-B has been waved by a presently unknown rally-crier, the Bruins and Blues will battle for the right to raise the Stanley Cup. Six games haven’t decided anything in the series, and now Boston and St. Louis meet in a winner-takes-all bout on the TD Garden ice. It’s the first time the Bruins have ever hosted a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final, and it’s going to be a long night for anyone watching.
Historically, that’s pretty darn cool. But that isn’t going to help anyone’s nerves when the puck finally drops. At that point, you better have found a comfortable seat, or at least one that has a cozy edge for you to plant your keister on. Most probably won’t even find a seat for the three-plus hour test of mettle.
Game 7’s are glorious affairs, though they usually don’t do much to help anyone’s mental stability. That counts for fans, media members, players, coaches and those in charge of making sure that sheet of ice is perfect. A Game 7 in the Cup Final is taxing on every front, and there have only been 16 previous ones to build up your psyche’s tolerance. These games are awesome, but damn are they stressful. They’re a gloriously violent dance that you cannot look away from. It all comes down to this, and no one wants to miss anything because they were too busy blinking.
Break down this particular Game 7 any way you want. The Bruins are the better team with more experience in settings like this. They have big-time players who will rise to the occasion, and there is no way Tuukka Rask is about to break in net. But the Blues have played better overall this series, and are going to continue to kick the crud out of the Bruins (legally or not). Jordan Binnington is the bounce-back king, and he’s in need of a bounce back after Game 6. Maybe St. Louis’ inexperience will work in their favor in the end.
You want cliches? Everything matters tonight. Every faceoff, every battle in the corner, every second, third or fourth effort. Nothing will be left in the tank at the end, because there is nothing left to save it for. One team will be planning a parade come Thursday, while the other will be looking for ways to fill a vast emptiness for a few months.
After 60 minutes of hockey tonight (or longer, if we’re really lucky), someone will be Cup champion and someone will go home with nothing. It’s a Super Bowl on ice (without a halftime show shoved down your throat), one last shot for both teams to send out their best effort. It’s not always fun to watch and the outcome could be devastating, but the journey is going to be one heck of a ride.
There is nothing quite like a Game 7 for the Stanley Cup, just as long as your nerves are ready for an epic tug-of-war.