Stanley Cup Final: The defining playoff moments from the Bruins and Blues as Game 7 looms
The long playoff journey comes to an end on Wednesday, but let's first revisit the key moments along the way
The Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues has been pretty wacky and unpredictable through six games, so it's tough to get a read on how this series might end on Wednesday in Boston. After all, anything can happen in a Game 7.
What we do know, however, is that both teams will see their respective playoff runs come to an end on Wednesday night, with one team getting to raise and kiss the Cup while the other is forced to cope with the heartbreaking reality that they came so far -- just one win away -- only to wind up empty-handed.
The Bruins and Blues (and their faithful) have gone through all kinds of ups and downs during these respective postseason runs, so let's take a look back at some of the more memorable moments that brought them to Wednesday's finale.
The Late Dramatics
Binnington announces his arrival
Prior to the start of the playoffs, there was plenty of discussion about how Jordan Binnington -- the rookie goaltender that led the Blues' second-half turnaround -- would look in his first playoff run.
Well, Binnington didn't take long to answer those questions. He made an incredible stop in the final seconds of the Blues playoff opener, robbing Mark Scheifele of what would have been the game-tying goal to secure the Game 1 win for St. Louis.
The Game 5 comeback
The Blues took a commanding 2-0 series lead in round one, only to drop the next two games at home -- including a devastating Game 4 overtime thriller. Then they fell into an early 2-0 hole in Game 5 and looked like they were on the ropes.
But St. Louis persevered and mounted a dramatic third period comeback, scoring three goals to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat. The game-winner came off the stick of Jaden Schwartz with less than 15 seconds to go.
There was every reason for the Bruins to feel confident in Game 7 at home against the Maple Leafs. Boston has been the Leafs' Boogeyman in recent memory, and especially at TD Garden.
But this year's Game 7 didn't feel like it totally belonged to Boston until Sean Kuraly dangled into the Toronto zone and ripped a shot past Frederik Andersen at the beginning of the third period. That goal doubled the Bruins' lead and gave them insurance down the stretch, and the leaping celebration from Kuraly was pretty fit for the moment.
The Pastrnak swing
David Pastrnak struggled early in the second-round series against the Blue Jackets and it played a part in Boston falling into a 2-1 series hole. Pastrnak, though, played the role of hero in a wild third period in Game 5, scoring two goals -- including the game winner -- and it was the turning point in the series.
Carl Gunnarson's OT game-winner
After pinging the post with a screamer late in regulation in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Blues defensman Carl Gunnarsson found some sweet justice in overtime with a game-winning blast from the point less than five minutes into the extra frame. The game-winner gave the Blues their first Stanley Cup Final victory in franchise history and, more importantly, prevented the team from falling into a 2-0 hole.
The Local Heroes
The Charlie Coyle game
Charlie Coyle has been one of the Bruins' better forwards in this playoff run but his biggest performance came in Game 1 of Boston's second-round series against the Blue Jackets. Not only did Coyle score the game-tying goal late in the third period to force overtime, but the local kid also scored the game-winner in OT as well.
The Maroon game-winner, Pt. 1
The Blues and the Stars had an outstanding back-and-forth series in round two, and no single game encapsulated that series quite like Game 3. The two teams traded strikes all game long until Patrick Maroon delivered the final blow on the doorstep to cap off what was a thrilling contest.
The Maroon game-winner, Pt. 2
Anytime you have a Game 7 go to overtime, you're pretty much guaranteed to have a memorable finish. But when you have a Game 7 go to double-overtime before a local guy scores the game-winner on home ice in front of his friends and family? I mean, come on...what a story.
Maroon's series-clincher against the Stars stands out as one of the best moments not only of this Blues run, but also of the entire playoffs. The game-winner brought his son to tears in the crowd and provided a tremendous full-circle storyline.
Given the history between the Bruins and Maple Leafs, it was a pretty good bet that bad blood would arise in their first-round series. It was also a good bet that some of that bad blood would involve Nazem Kadri, who was suspended for an ugly hit during last year's playoff series between these two teams.
Lo and behold, Kadri and Jake DeBrusk went at each other over the first couple of games and things got ugly. There were cheap shots, knees, and harsh words exchanged, but that personal beef ultimately culminated in Kadri delivering a high-cross check on DeBrusk away from the play. As a result, he was suspended and missed the remainder of the series, and the Leafs lost in seven games...again.
The Bishop stunner
The Blues were hanging onto a one-goal lead in the third period of a must-win Game 6 when they were quite literally able to catch Stars goaltender down and out. Colton Parayko blasted a point shot that caught Bishop in the collarbone, knocking him to the ice in agony. The Blues took advantage by firing a shot on the empty net to double their lead, helping them cruise to a victory and force a Game 7.
There was some controversy surrounding the sequence, as some thought play should have been whistled for a wellness check on Bishop.
Blues lose on hand pass
After splitting the opening two games of the series, the Blues were absolutely jobbed in Game 3 when the Sharks got away with a blatant hand pass that led to the overtime winner for the Sharks. Timo Meier clearly swatted the puck out of mid-air to help the Sharks maintain possession before Erik Karlsson scored the game-winner to give San Jose a 2-1 series lead. The play is not reviewable and the Sharks essentially were able to steal a win.
A frustrating loss that will forever stand out to the Bruins faithful during this run came in Game 5 of the Cup Final. With the series tied 2-2 and the Bruins trailing by one in the third period, the Blues got away with a blatant trip just seconds before doubling their lead. It was an egregious missed call that proved to be costly for the Bruins, who ended up losing the game 2-1.
Cam Neely furiously chucking a water bottle across the room in the aftermath of the goal was what every Bruins fan was feeling at the moment.
The Kampfer goal
After Charlie McAvoy was suspended for a high hit in the final game of the Columbus series, the Bruins were forced to insert Steven Kampfer in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Against all odds, Kampfer scored the first goal of the series -- his first ever postseason goal.
That goal also provided what was undoubtedly the best tandem celebration of the entire playoffs.
The Bortuzzo goal
If you're looking for a Kampfer-like moment on the Blues' side, you can find it with Robert Bortuzzo. He might be unlikeliest of offensive heroes on the Blues' roster, but the depth defenseman scored a massive (and very pretty) game-winning goal in the third period of Game 2 against the Sharks.
The Bruins-Blues matchup in the Stanley Cup Final has been a matchup of two hard, heavy teams, capable of grinding it out against one another. However, not many people looked at Torey Krug who would have a big impact in the physicality department.
Nonetheless, Krug threw one of the biggest hits of the playoffs in Game 1 of the series, and he did it without his helmet. After being pinned down at one end of the ice, Krug found immediate retribution at the other end when he crushed Robert Thomas with a thunderous hit.
Some argued that the play should have been whistled for charging but officials determined it was a clean hit.
Zdeno Chara's breaks his jaw
For better or for worse, one of the most memorable things to come from this Bruins run will be the broken jaw that Zdeno Chara suffered in Game 4. He had a shot deflect off his stick and up into his face, leaving him bloodied and battered.
The reason that the injury will be so memorable is because Chara returned to action for the very next game. There was plenty of mystery and speculation regarding the Bruins captain's status leading up to puck drop in Game 5, but he took the ice and received a thunderous, supportive ovation from the home crowd.
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