ST. LOUIS – Tuukka Rask has his mouth wide open and domestic beer is funneling out of the Stanley Cup and splashing his face with force. The rebound is uncontainable, spraying everywhere.
This beauty, snapped in the Vancouver Canucks’ visitors room in 2011, is just one of the incredible championship photographs from Boston Bruins Stanley Cup victories past that hangs throughout the club’s temporary digs in the bowels of Enterprise Center.
There’s Bobby Orr smiling and holding a gigantic brown bottle wearing a 1970 Cup champs T-shirt. Patrice Bergeron kissing the Cup. Zdeno Chara holding the thing higher than, we’re guessing, anyone ever has and shaking it like hell. Like heaven.
David Pastrnak took a look around the decorated room Saturday morning and considered the opportunity to make more history.
“You can see those guys having memories like that for life. It’s definitely something you want to be part of. It’s what you work for your whole life. A picture like this is what you remember the most,” said Pastrnak, who draws motivation from the images.
“Yeah, 100 per cent. You’re growing up dreaming to win this trophy, then you are in the same room with the guys who already won it. For us young guys or whoever, it’s extremely motivational for us. I’ve taken a good look at it.”
It’s important, coach Bruce Cassidy believes, to not pretend these are just ordinary games. So the photos, which have been posted in the Bruins’ room at TD Garden, were packed up to travel for these road games.
“Because that’s what we’re playing for. I mean, we’re here to win a Stanley Cup, and I don’t want to hide from it. I don’t think the players do, either. This is what’s at stake, why we’re blocking shots, missing games. This is why you’re taking a hit to make a play. This is what it’s all about,” Cassidy said.
“This helps build your legacy. We’ve talked about that. We don’t want to ram it down their throats, but it needs to be out there. We’re grateful to be playing, we certainly earned our way, and this is the prize at the end of the line.”
Healthy bodies enter series
Suspensions and injuries in this visceral series have paved the way for a couple of well-rested players to enter the fray.
With Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk recovering back in Boston as a result of getting boarded by Oskar Sundqvist, John Moore slides into the left of Connor Clifton on the bottom defence pair.
Moore, 28, signed a hefty five-year, $13.75-million to join the Bruins as a free agent last summer but has only been used in five playoffs games. He’s been champing at the bit to get in.
“You can shape the narrative in a variety of different ways, but right now I have an opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup Final,” Moore said. “If you would’ve told me that in the summer, I would have signed up for that 100 times out of 100. So, I’m ecstatic to be in. Obviously, I hate to see Grizz go down, but now it’s my time to go to work.”
Blues coach Craig Berube is replacing the suspended Sundqvist with fourth-line winger Zach Sanford due to his defensive responsibility and penalty-killing prowess.
Teammate Robert Bortuzzo describes Sanford as a heady player with high-end puck possession, a guy who finishes every check and will do his best to inject energy.
Sanford grew up in Salem, Mass., and spent two seasons starring for Boston College. He’s been a diehard Bruins fan for as long as he can remember.
“Yes. Well, until now,” Sanford said. “It’s kind of crazy how things like this work out.”
Sanford woke up Saturday excited, his phone flooded with messages from his old pals from BC.
“I’ve been getting a lot of texts saying they’re rooting for me but they’re rooting for the Bruins more,” Sanford said.
The Blues’ Robert Thomas will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury.
Blues treating home games like road games
While some Bruins expressed excitement to get back to hotel life after 15(!) consecutive days at home — a playoff rarity — hotel life is the only life the Blues know.
Despite returning to St. Louis, the players are caving it up in a hotel near Enterprise Center, something Carl Gunnarsson says they’ve been doing “pretty much” the entire four rounds. It helps them focus on the task at hand and not get caught up in the hype of a city that’s waited 49 years between Cup finals.
“It’s kind of weird. You’re in your own little bubble, but a thing or two seeps through there and you kind of notice it. It’s awesome. We saw the building here being sold out when we were in Boston. At the same time, we’re in this room and we focus together,” Gunnarsson said. “You try to think about it or not think about it, because you get wrapped up in all these thoughts. Obviously, we know what this means here. It’s a big deal.”
Adds Joel Edmundson: “Everyone’s got families in town, so especially when we’re back in St. Louis, it’s nice to go to the hotel, have your own little space, and set your mind straight for the game tonight. We’ve been doing this for years now and it’s been working great.”
Why Cassidy will pull his goalie in a tie game
Cassidy raised eyebrows and drew praise when he pulled Rask in the second period of Game 2 with the score 2-2. A scant 1.2 seconds remained in the period, and the draw was in the Blues’ zone, so it was a calculated risk to throw out an extra attacker.
Although, the coach says it wasn’t a risk at all.
The Bruins already mimicked a scenario where the opponent’s centre wins the draw clean to the defenceman, who one-times the puck as hard and quick as possible down the ice.
It took three seconds.
“Now, you’re at the mercy of the guy hitting the button to start the clock, so we’re not going to do it at three. But I would probably do it anywhere from two or under,” Cassidy explains.
“I don’t think you can get much harm done and, really, maybe, once in a blue moon you get that extra player and it helps you score.”
Edmundson says the pull didn’t catch the Blues by surprise; they saw it in the regular season, and Berube uses the tactic, too.
“Chief has done that several times. You’re not going to get the puck down in two seconds. Our centreman is just trying to tie up and kill the play,” Edmundson said.
“You see it a lot, but in the Stanley Cup Final it’s a little different.”