Jun. 12--BOSTON -- A Stanley Cup Final Game 7 is an uncommon occurrence. We've only seen two since 2007.
But one of the games involved the Boston Bruins in 2011, and a handful of players in that game will also play Wednesday for the Bruins against the St. Louis Blues in a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 (8 p.m ET, NBC).
"I think it's a great place for our younger guys to lean on those older guys," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Current Bruins Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask were on the 2011 Bruins when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7.
"We're lucky to have them," Bruins forward Sean Kuraly said. "You look to them and can feel comfort in that, follow in their footsteps and know you're walking in the right direction."
That should be an advantage for the Bruins, but no one is forgetting the Blues have already won two games on Boston ice in this series. Plus, they've been a resilient bunch in the postseason.
Before the Final, every member of USA TODAY Sports' panel picked the Bruins to win. Now that we have a Game 7, will we all stick with the Bruins?
Kevin Allen, Bruins 3, Blues 1: Home ice advantage. Big-game experience. Hot goalie. Dangerous power play. The Bruins have too many factors going for them. They are confident after going into St. Louis and beating the Blues 5-1 to force a Game 7. The Bruins' trademark this season has the been the consistency of their effort.
Jimmy Hascup, Bruins 4, Blues 2: Tuukka Rask and his .938 playoff save percentage on home ice against a rookie netminder? A top line that reawakened with four points in Game 6? A future Hall of Fame defenseman (Zdeno Chara) logging shutdown minutes like he's in his prime? Yeah, give me Boston to finish this off.
Mike Brehm, Bruins 3, Blues 1: Would love to see a Bruins defenseman score in overtime, go flying through the air and get a statue outside TD Garden. But Boston should get this done in regulation. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who rebounds well after a loss, will keep the game tight, but Tuukka Rask's strong play and the Bruins' experience should win out and Boston will get an empty-netter to make the difference.
Jace Evans, Bruins 3, Blues 0: Tuukka Rask has been unfairly maligned by a segment of the Boston fanbase for years. But a shutout in Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final -- which predecessor Tim Thomas accomplished in 2011 -- that would come with the Conn Smythe Trophy would be a good way for the winningest goalie in Bruins history to cement his legacy. A shutout would also be impressive based on the Blues' road dominance: they're 9-3 away from Enterprise Center these playoffs, and they have already won two games in Boston this series. ___
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