ST. LOUIS — One more win for the St. Louis Blues to win the first Stanley Cup in their 52-year history. One win for the Boston Bruins to get the series back home for the ultimate showdown Wednesday night.
That's what will be at stake Sunday night in Enterprise Center as the Blues and Bruins play Game 6 of the Cup final. St. Louis has won two straight to take a 3-2 lead in the series. The game faces off shortly after 8 p.m. ET on NBC and CBC.
The Blues have closed out their three previous series this season at home — and are 7-1 in this postseason after Game 5.
"I don’t think anyone can not think about it, first of all," Blues coach Craig Berube said today when asked about holding the Cup. "But I think it’s important that you don’t get ahead of yourself. That’s one thing we’ve talked about the last couple of days, and today is just focusing on the first period and going out and playing."
"There’s pressure on both sides," Boston defenseman Torey Krug said. "If they don’t win tonight, then they have to come into a Game 7 in our building and that’s pressure for them, I’m sure. For us, our season could end, but we’re coming into it with the right mentality that we’re going to force a Game 7. Ultimately, it comes down to will and who wants it more.”
Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's potential Cup clincher:
1. Lineup moves: Rookie winger Robert Thomas (wrist) will return to the St. Louis lineup for the first time since Game 1 to replace the suspended Ivan Barbashev, who earned a one-game ban from the NHL for a hit on Boston's Marcus Johansson in Game 5.
"It's the hardest thing to watch your teammates go out there in this position," said Thomas. "So I'm happy to be able to get back in."
Berube again insisted the thunderous hit Thomas absorbed from Torey Krug in Game 1 was no factor in Thomas' absence.
The Bruins will give a series debut to winger Karson Kuhlman, who hasn't played since Game 3 of the second round against Columbus. He'll play on the second line with slumping David Krejci, who has no points in the series. Steven Kampfer will sit as Boston goes back to the standard 12-forward/six-defensemen format.
2. Down 3-2 is nothing new: The Bruins were in this same spot in the 2011 Final against Vancouver, and they won Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road to take the Cup. In the first round this year, they won Game 6 in Toronto and returned home for a 5-1 blowout in Game 7.
"We often say these series are long series and it's definitely not over," center Patrice Bergeron said today. "I think we have a lot to learn from that series (against Toronto). We came in, just played our game. We were just ourselves, played the right way and came out on top."
3. In the nets: St. Louis' Jordan Binnington can become the first rookie goalie in history to win 16 games in a playoff year with a victory tonight. A strong performance, combined with his 38 saves in Game 5, probably puts Binnington a notch ahead of Ryan O'Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz in balloting for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He has a 2.46 goals-against average and .913 save percentage for the playoffs (2.85/.908 in the final)
Boston's Tuukka Rask, who gave up just one goal over the final two games of the East final against Carolina, is at 1.97/.937 in the postseason and 2.38/.917 in this series.
4. Life of O'Reilly: The former Sabres center has three goals in the last two games and 20 points in the postseason, one shy of tying the Blues' franchise mark for a single postseason of 21 set by Brett Hull (1990), Bernie Federko (1986) and Doug Gilmour (1986).
With a Stanley Cup in play, O'Reilly said he had a restless night of sleep last night. The Blues sequestered themselves in a local hotel to limit distractions.
"I did for a bit, and then I woke up," O'Reilly said. "It took me a while to get back down. Obviously, there’s a lot of excitement. We know what’s at stake. But again, I'm just trying tonight to take it one shift at a time."
5. Pregame moment to Watch: NBC will show it, so be sure to be watching ahead of the opening faceoff when 64-year-old Charles Glenn, the Blues' beloved anthem singer, performs for the final time. Glenn announced earlier this season he was retiring due to multiple sclerosis symptoms. A video of Glenn singing the 1982 pop hit "Gloria" in lullaby form to newborn babies at a St. Louis hospital was released Saturday and has already gone viral. The song has become the city's anthem, played in the arena each time the team wins a game and played non-stop around the city and on radio.
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