BOSTON – There was undoubtedly a bounce and electricity to the final practice of the season for the Bruins on Tuesday afternoon at TD Garden.
The Bruins know that Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is right around the corner on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues, and the historic game on Causeway Street will determine a championship series winner after two weeks of battling on the ice. Ticket prices have skyrocketed way over $1,000 for the first Cup Final Game 7 at home in the 95-year history of the Bruins franchise and everybody wants to be in the building to potentially celebrate another sports title in the city of Boston.
So, what are the Bruins players expecting from a Garden crowd that's gained steam as the playoffs have rolled along?
"We're expecting the fans are going to be awesome," said Patrice Bergeron. "Obviously the energy is going to be electric. The Atmosphere? I can't even imagine what it's going to be like. Obviously, you have to use it to your advantage and manage it in a way to use that energy. And make sure you're focused on the game.
"You put everything on the line for 2 1/2 months to get to this point. So, you've got to enjoy it, be in the moment and give it everything you've got."
The energy from the Garden fans before Game 5 last Thursday was breathtaking. The crowd gave Bruins captain Zdeno Chara -- who suffered a broken jaw the game before -- a rousing ovation when he was introduced during the starting lineups. It was one of the loudest standing ovations in the building's history, and Chara said Tuesday he was "overwhelmed by the response of the crowd."
Game 7 should be on another level, though. Boston sports teams have won 12 championships since 2000, but only the 2008 Celtics and 2013 Red Sox clinched a title in Boston.
Amazingly, the Bruins will be the final of the Original Six teams to host a Game 7 on home ice, and they'll be the first Boston team to host a Game 7 in a championship series since the Celtics beat the Lakers back in 1984. Home-ice advantage isn't always a big deal in the Stanley Cup playoffs as attested by the road records for both St. Louis and Boston in this postseason, but there is an exception to that rule when it comes to Game 7's.
Just think of the way the Bruins have dispatched Toronto in Game 7's on home ice in each of the past two postseasons and how the Maple Leafs absolutely melted in the third period against the Bruins back in the 2013 first round. It's for that reason, that Bruce Cassidy is counting on a home-ice advantage from the raucous fans.
"I do believe that if you're going to have home-ice advantage that [Game 7] is the game that you want [it for]. So, we're glad to have home ice for this one," said Cassidy. "The big players tend to step up because they're the better players, and when it's the other guys it's because the rest of the guys have done their job, and the game hasn't gotten away from you.
"That's been kind of our deal all year. We've played through a lot of injuries in our lineup and we've relied on a lot of different guys to get the job done. That's why the next man up has worked well for us. We're also a solid team so they're not asked to do too much. That's why we're here."
The Bruins are hoping now that the energy and the passion from a jammed TD Garden crowd will put them over the top and allow the rarity of the home team enjoying a solid victory in this Stanley Cup Final series where the road has been very good.
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