Blues completely ruin the Bruins’ Garden party

The drama was spectacular. The tension mounted with each skating stride.

A seventh game for the Stanley Cup. For hockey fans, Wednesday night couldn’t get any better.

For Boston Bruins hockey fans, it couldn’t get any worse after a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, the 2018-19 Stanley Cup champions.

The Cup was supposed to go to Boston, wasn’t it?

This one will be tough to take. Bruins fans confidence was on the rise early in the day; it was tested after the first period down 2-0, it waned after it stayed that way in the second period and totally disappeared in the third underneath the body or in the glove of Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who had 12 of his 32 saves in the first period.

“Obviously,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, “Binnington makde some saves in the first period.”

The TD Garden, simply too loud to even describe in the beginning, was deathly quiet in the third after St. Louis forward (and New Hampshire’s own) Zach Sanford scored to make it a 4-0 game. The fans were on Causeway Street and all around the TD Garden on Wednesday beginning at 10 a.m., and were ready for hockey all day.

But not this kind of result.

“It’s an empty feeling,” Cassidy said. “Someone has to win, someone has to lose, but it’s not the way we pictured it.”

The amazing Stanley Cup playoffs are over once again, ending in the ultimate one game to decide whose quest that began in September with training camp would be successful.

Maybe that quest was even longer. Early in the day, Bruin Torey Krug was talking about the preparation for an opportunity like this goes all the way back to his youth. “It’s a special moment,” he said.

The Bruins were frustrated by that moment after one period, a period in which they outshot (12-4) and outplayed the Blues, but couldn’t outscore them, down 2-0. Goals by Ryan O’Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo felt like daggers, because of the way the Bruins dominated.

“We thought we were going to do it,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “It would take one goal to get things going. We couldn’t get that one early enough.”

The day was certainly different for the city of Boston, for the New England region, for the fans, and especially for the players. A day unlike none other.

“Obviously you can feel a bit your dream coming true, being in this position,” Bruins sniper David Pastrnak said early in the day. “Playing for something you’ve been dreaming of. That’s why you play hockey, right?

“Other than that, it’s a great opportunity for us, obviously a lot of excitement.”

But the Blues had to prepare the same way. As Conn Smythe winner O’Reilly said, “I still can’t believe it. That I’m here right now as Stanley Cup champion with this group of guys.”

A group that was 15-18-4 back on New Year’s Eve. Incredible.

Krug says a player has to “try to trick yourself” into thinking Wednesday night’s epic was “just another game.” All the usual words you would expect to hear. The Blues evidently were doing the same thing.

Really, there was a sense of shock in the Bruins locker room. They couldn’t have possibly envisioned this scenario. And now all the criticism may be heaping on Tuukka Rask again, because he didn’t win the ultimate game the way Tim Thomas did eight years ago.

Unfair, Cassidy said.

“We’re a team,” he said. “He (Rask) was our best player.”

The Bruins, after surviving a seven game series with Toronto, had the pathway cleared for this when powerful 60-win Tampa was stunningly swept by Columbus in the first round, and Washington fell by the wayside at the hands of Carolina. Both were in the Bruins path, and they dispatched both in six and four. Bruins fans sensed this almost clear path, beginning the “We Want The Cup” chant fairly early into the second round.

Wow. Who would have thought they’d get this close eight months ago? Then again, who would have thought they would have lost three games at home in te finals, including the seventh game.

The Bruins, despite the loss Wednesday, were an extremely tight-knit group.

“What makes this group so special, is we all want to do it for each other,” Krug said. “Young or old, we realize the work we put in. Everyone loves each other. We’re just going out there, doing it for one antoher, and hopefully that pushes us to the edge.”

Unfortunately, they fell over the edge.

It always is a long season for the teams that reach the Finals, and then extend things to the ultimate seventh game.

The tension. The work. The desire. The emotion. The fun.

“It’s right there,” Krug said. “Let’s go grab this thing.”

They were trying to do just that, but the Blues beat them to it.

A huge letdown.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK, or tking@nashuatelegraph.com