Friday, October 25, 2019

Blues return to scene where first Stanley Cup came to fruition

Rematch with Boston Bruins sets stage for first meeting since last 
season's Final at TD Garden should bring forth emotions from both sides

ST. LOUIS -- It was just four and a half months ago, the day the Blues established the greatest day in their history, finally achieving something that had been missing since their inception into the NHL in 1967.

On that June 12 night, when the final horn sounded and the Blues clinched their first-ever Stanley Cup at TD Garden, it set off a celebration those that took part in it will never forget. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues return to the scene where they celebrated their first Stanley Cup
in a rematch with the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

It seems like so long ago, yet the memories are still so fresh. And try as they might, the Blues (5-2-3) can talk about moving on from last season's incredible run, but as they return to the very scene where it all happened then to face the Boston Bruins (6-1-2) on Saturday for the first time in the Cup Final rematch (6 p.m.; NBCSN, ESPN 101.1-FM), those feelings will come flooding back.

"The feelings are going to be with you forever, no doubt about it, especially in that rink, but I think we're there to win a hockey game, grab two points," said Blues center Brayden Schenn, who scored to give the Blues a 3-0 lead in the third period of the 4-1 win in Game 7. "It's going to be hard. They're playing well too. We know they're deep, they're a good team. It'll be a good game.

"I'm sure they're not going to like us too much in that building, but obviously for this group in this locker room, a lot of great memories. Playing the Stanley Cup Final there, having the celebration in the locker room. All that's behind us now. We're looking forward to going there. I'm sure it's going to be a tough game because I'm sure they're not happy."

No, the Bruins aren't happy. They weren't then, they certainly aren't now. To put all that work into winning it all and to fall on the short end of it sticks in a player's craw.

"I think it's going to be an emotional game for both teams to be honest with you," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "They're obviously on a break here, I don't know how many days, maybe three, somewhere in that range, so they're going to be ready. Obviously with the finals last year, I think it's going to be a good game. It's going to be a tough game. They're playing really well. The power play's excellent, that top line's excellent. We're going to have to be ready.

"You're going into that building, we beat that team last year in the finals and they're obviously going to be ready and I think we're going to be ready. A lot of media hype will be made of it and things like that, but that's just part of the game. Our guys just got to focus on the game. That's it, and be ready to go. It's going to be a tough game."

The Blues will be Public Enemy No. 1 at TD Garden. There will be a packed arena full of resentment towards the visitors, and that's OK with them. It only means you took something that they wanted, and can never have back and should serve as a motivator for them as well.

"Probably not, that's OK though," Blues forward Ivan Barbashev said when asked if they'll be received well. "We can handle it.

"We all know about the next game. It's going to be a real emotional game. It's going to be a heavy game. I can't wait for it (and) we're looking good right now. ... I'm excited. I'm sure everyone is excited."

Excited but not expecting any warm welcomes or any red carpet to be rolled out.

"No, they definitely aren't," Blues forward Robert Thomas said of Bruins fans. "You know what, it's going to be a fun game. Last couple games we've been playing really well. They've got some big firepower obviously. Saturday night in Boston, should be a lot of fun."

There's nothing like the silence of the home crowd when the visitors are doing the right things and being in the winning side of it, especially in a Game 7 scenario when all the marbles are at stake. That's what the Blues felt that night.

"Great memories there and some hard-fought battles," Blues goalie Jordan Binnington said. "I don't expect anything less this time."

The White House visit was supposed to be the final tell-all, turn-the-page moment for the Blues on last season. They've won two in a row, played well in doing so, and have been focused in on the new season. But this visit, this soon, will bring a lot of those everlasting memories back. It's only natural.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues players are ready to jump on the ice as the seconds wind down in
Boston on June 12 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"I don't think it will be too bad," Thomas said. "We kind of turned the page as a team. After the White House visit, that was kind of the end of it. It'll definitely be some emotions walking back in there, but we're ready to go."

"Looking back on it, here we are talking again about the Stanley Cup," Schenn said. "I thought we let it go, but no, it's obviously an incredible feeling being a hockey player, an athlete winning a championship, especially in professional sports, or in any league for that matter and going back into Boston, Game 7, kind of how our season unfolded. I think we're looking forward to getting back there and it's always fun playing the Bruins."

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