Bruins, Blues have shown remarkable intensity
This truly has felt like a Stanley Cup Final.
Say what you will about blown calls, all the controversy, the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins, going into Sunday night’s critical Game 6, have had to play hard and long for the last two weeks.
Boston-Toronto? It was a good series, the Bruins doing what they were attempting to do last night, battle back from a 3-2 deficit to win the series.
Bruins-Columbus? OK, Boston trailed 2-1, but yawwwwwn … it just didn’t feel like the Blue Jackets had a legitimate shot.
Boston-Carolina? Puh-leeeeze. How the Hurricanes got as far as the Eastern Conference Finals was perplexing, and may have been an indicator of just how weak the rest of the competition in the Eastern Conference was other than Tampa, Boston and Toronto. The series was a joke, the Bruins were so dominant they told captain Zdeno Chara to take a break for Game 4.
And then it came to the Finals, when many after Boston’s 7-2 win in Game 3 figured the Bruins were in for another easy ride.
Guess again. Blues coach Craig Berube, who took over the team on Nov. 30, whined about officiating after Game 3 and St. Louis had yet to lose going into Sunday night.
Fascinating. Somehow it’s been forgotten that on New Year’s Eve the Blues were 15-18-4, last overall in the NHL. Yes, dead last in the entire league. So as much has there has been controversy in thise series, Berube&Co.have been doing something right.
So prior to Game 6, we had some lasting images of this series. There’s obviously the image of the big Torey Krug hit, sans helmet and perfectly legal, on St. Louis’ Robert Thomas.
There’s the image of defenseman Matt Grzelcyk getting pummeled by the Blues Oscar Sundqvist, perhaps a series-changeing blow, in the first period of Game 2.
There’s Patriots coach Bill Belichck waving that sacred Banner prior to Game 2 at the TD Garden. Unfortunately for the Bruins, that didn’t bring them any luck.
How about the image of Boston forward Brad Marchand shanking his sore hand in that pre-series scrimmage back on May 23? Going into Sunday night, Marchand clearly had not been the same player since. It had been an obvious factor.
There’s the image of Chara, standing at the blue line during Game 5’s starting lineup introductions Thursday night, wearing protective facial gear due to a reported broken jaw, and receiving a loud, long ovation. It was an image that should have catipulted the Bruins to victory in Game 5, but didn’t.
Instead there’s the image of Bruins president Cam Neely hurling a water bottle against the wall in his box after St. Louis got the go-ahead goal, thanks in part to another image, that of St. Louis’ Tyler Bozak slew flooting Boston’s Noel Acciari and no call made. There’s also the image of fans throwing things on the ice.
There’s the image of former Pinkerton Astro Zach Sanford’s no-look pass to O’Reilly for the big asssist on the first goal of Game 5. Follow that image up with the image of Blues’ Jordan Biddington, Ryan O’Reilly and Sanford all sitting at the podium after the win Thursday, looking like players who felt they were on the verge of something special.
What images would come out of Sunday night? Bruins fans were hopeful that the one they wouldn’t have to see would be the Blues skating around Enterprise Center with the Stanley Cup.
They instead understandably wanted more images to look forward to for a Wednesday deciding Game 7.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK, or firstname.lastname@example.org