Pardon the cliche, but Game 7 is where both teams give everything they have. The Bruins have more and should win the Stanley Cup.
If you make your prediction on Game 7 based on the series so far, you might be torn. The Bruins have greatly outscored St. Louis (21-14), but the Blues have enjoyed lengthier stints in the Boston zone and have carried the play both at 5-on-5 (52% Corsi For) and overall (53%). They've also outscored the Bruins in 5-on-5 play, which is where both teams can expect to play the vast majority on Wednesday.
But when you zoom out and actually think about both teams' ceilings? This series should already be over. It was underachievement from Boston's top forwards that even put the Bruins on the brink of elimination in the first place.
Now, the Bruins are going into the biggest game of their lives with a competent and confident top two forward lines for the first time all series. Their defense is coming off a solid showing, thanks in part to us knowing Zdeno Chara can indeed play through that jaw injury. The team has also recently learned it can win a game without needing penalty calls, and oh yeah, the Bruins still have the better goalie (and best postseason player) by a wide margin.
Everything is trending in Boston's favor. Yes, momentum has meant [area that Brad Marchand occasionally spears] this series, but between Bruce Cassidy and his stars figuring it out offensively, Jordan Binnington finally paying for another one of his so-so performances and the possibility -- however great or small -- that Matt Grzelcyk could return to bolster the Bruins' back end, the Bruins shouldn't feel the need to worry about officiating crews or idiotic quotes from Craig Berube. They have the better team, even if they haven't always played like it.
This series has been a grind, but "the other team hits more" is not an excuse to lose in the NHL playoffs anymore -- not for a good team, anyway. The disappearing act of the top six greatly hindered the Bruins; prior to Game 6, the Bruins had only outscored St. Louis at even strength in one game (Game 3). Despite the overall meh performance of Binnington, the Bruins find themselves in a 3-3 deadlock because of their own offensive struggles, not because the Blues are some sort of unsolvable riddle.
There was absolutely the chance for everything to unravel in Game 6. Brad Marchand took an unnecessary -- and yes, very familiar-looking -- tripping penalty midway through the second period of a 1-0 game. If Lady Luck didn't pay Tuukka Rask and Charlie McAvoy a visit on Alex Pietrangelo's seeing-eye bid, it would have been tied in the other team's building when the Blues just got the call the Bruins didn't get one game earlier.
But that didn't happen. Luck occurred, Rask stayed dominant and the Bruins got out of there feeling as good about their game as they probably have all series.
For all the perplexing struggles of the Perfection Line in the first five games of the series, the offensive woes were exacerbated by the fact that David Krejci was just as unproductive. Krejci turned in his best game of the series in Game 6. Perhaps after five games of praying that just one of its top two centers would give them a decent performance, the Bruins should count on both.
There have been major questions about the Bruins prior to a lot of these postseason games, many of which recently have started with "what the hell is going on with." Yet through 23 games, there aren't really any questions left. We know for the most part what the lineup is going to be. We know the Bruins can score 5-on-5. We know Rask is Rask.
And within a week, we're going to know a lot more. We're going to know who's been hurt and for how long. We're also going to know which team will be spending the summer with the Stanley Cup. Thinking that team will be the Bruins is not overconfidence. It's simply expecting the better team to win.
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