BOSTON -- The players and coaches are understandably tired of talking. The media is tired of listening too. You can't blame anybody on either side. Media Day for the Stanley Cup final was on May 26, Game 1 was on May 27 and it ends tonight, on June 12, in Game 7 at TD Garden.
Faceoff is around 8:15 on both NBC and CBC and it's been a long road for both teams to get to the first ultimate game of the Cup final since 2011.
The Bruins' season began with a preseason trip to China in September. The Blues endured the November firing of coach Mike Yeo and the sinking of their ship to last in the NHL standings in January before things turned around.
This is playoff game No. 26 for St. Louis, thus making it Game 108 of its season and tying the NHL record set previously by several teams. It's No. 106 for Boston
Boston is looking for its seventh Cup title, and its first at home since 1970. The Blues, born in 1967, are looking for their first championship. There's your backdrop
Here are Five Things to Know about Game Seven:
1. Lineup news: The big nugget from today's pregame chatter is that Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk will return to the lineup after being concussed by a hit from St. Louis' Oskar Sundqvist early in Game 2 (Sundqvist got a one-game suspension). Grzelcyk, a Boston native and Boston University teammate of Sabres captain Jack Eichel in 2014-15, is one of the Bruins' key puck movers on the blueline.
"This is a lot to think about for sure," Grzelcyk said today. "It's what you dream about as a kid growing up in Boston, playing for the Bruins in game 7, Boston Garden. ... Just trying to do my best keeping my emotions in check and playing a simple game."
The Blues get Ivan Barbashev back from a one-game suspension for a hit to the head and rookie Robert Thomas, who has been dealing with an ailing wrist, will sit tonight. On defense, Joel Edmundson will come in for Robert Bortuzzo after sitting as a scratch the last two games.
2. Game 7 history: This is the 17th ultimate game in the Cup final and the home team is 12-4 in the first 16. But the road team has won the last two: Pittsburgh's 2-1 win in Detroit in 2009 and Boston's 4-0 victory in Vancouver in 2011, the last time the series went the distance. If you're thinking overtime, we haven't had a Game 7 go past regulation since Tony Leswick scored for Detroit against Montreal in 1954. The Blues are 9-8 in their history in Game Seven (beating Dallas in double OT in the second round this year) while Boston is 15-12 (beating Toronto in the first round).
3. Conn Smythe candidates: If the Bruins win the Cup, there's almost no question that goaltender Tuukka Rask will win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. He's got a 1.93 goals-against average and .938 save percentage for the postseason and numbers of 2.15/.925 in this series. Even if the Blues win, Rask has a decent chance of becoming the first player from the losing team to take the award since Anaheim's J-S Giguere in 2003.
If the Blues win, goaltender Jordan Binnington might get some looks for becoming the first rookie in history to notch 16 wins in a single postseason. But Binnington's numbers over the first six games of the final are not good (3.07/.901) and a better choice for the Conn Smythe would probably be former Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly, who enters Game 7 having tied the franchise mark for points in a postseason with 21. He has four goals and three assists in this series, to lead all players in goals and points (7). He also would become the first player since Wayne Gretzky in 1985 to score a goal in four straight games of the final if he tallies tonight.
4. They said it today:
* Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy on raising the Cup: "You gotta live in the moment. I guess dreaming is fine. It’s all good. But it’s fiction until it’s reality. I just want to live in the moment. Go have my lunch. Enjoy that. Take a nap. Enjoy that. Then just go step by step throughout my day, and just be there. Be in the moment."
* Binnington on the last-second save by Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury that won Game 7 in '09: "You like seeing moments like that where he kind of loses his technical game and just goes for it and trusts himself and it’s a big moment."
* Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on tonight cementing the legacy for him and his team: "We use that word around here, but I think it’s for much later. So I haven’t thought about mine personally. I just want my name on the damn Cup. That’s what I want. And then we can talk about it however you want.”
5. By the numbers: The Blues are 1 for 18 on the power play in the series, including 0 for 8 the last three games. "We've got another game to redeem ourselves," said winger Patrick Maroon. Boston is 7 for 23 but just 1 for 9 in the last three games. ... The Bruins are 13-0 when leading after two periods in the playoffs while the Blues are 9-1. Oddly though, Boston is just 1-4 when tied after two. ... Defenseman Torey Krug (1-5-6) leads the Bruins in scoring in the series. The Bs are still waiting for David Krejci (0-1-1) to do something in this round after he collected 15 points in 17 games in the first three series.