It’s ok if you’re nervous. It’s ok if you’re not. Everyone has their own gameday traditions, and most of you right now are trying to figure out what lucky jersey to wear, or what socks, or, in Bobby Plager’s case, what shampoo to use.
It’s just a game day, like every other game day. But it’s not. It’s so very, very different.
The Stanley Cup is in Enterprise Center.
It could be handed to Alex Pietrangelo tonight.
Fifty-two years of misery, waiting, and broken expectations could be dashed away tonight, in this, the most unlikely of season finales. What started off as a write-off of a year, escalated into a coach being fired and a GM basically declaring a fire sale before the All-Star Game was even on that year’s calendar.
And then all of a sudden, the boys heard “Gloria,” called up Jordan Binnington, and pulled off one of the greatest second half turnarounds in professional sports history. Sometimes miracles happen. Sometimes, patience is rewarded.
Patience hasn’t been rewarded yet, though - the Blues still have one more game to win and they’ll have to do it without Ivan Barbashev. The fact that a suspended fourth-liner could be a problem for the Blues is a testament to how valuable the fourth line has been at shutting down the Bruins’ top players consistently at five-on-five. The Bruins have to wait for a Blues’ penalty if they want to do anything even remotely offensive.
And that is why the Blues can’t give the Bruins an inch tonight. Emotions and excitement before game three translated into a massive blowout loss, but adjustments and patience helped the Blues take the next two games. Robert Thomas is back in tonight, so while the loss of Barbashev will be felt it’s at least going to be mitigated by the return of a player who has quickly made a name for himself among fans.
Nary a word was said during Bruce Cassidy’s press conference about officials. Maybe he and the Bruins have left that narrative far behind them, and they hope that they’ve planted some seeds in the minds of Gord Dwyer and Chris Rooney: pay close attention to these dirty, dirty Blues. Please pay no mind to our team, who employs Brad Marchand and who condones his spears to the guts and low bridges.
If Dwyer and Rooney have any sense, and I strongly think that they do, they’re going to swallow their whistles and only call when they need to. If you’re a ref, you don’t want game six to be decided by you, and you certainly don’t want drama like that which came after game five. The Blues are, coincidentally enough (because that’s all that this is, is a coincidence) are 4-1 in the playoffs with Dwyer and 6-0 with Rooney, and both gentlemen were the refs in the Blues’ victories in games two and four.
The Blues, though, can’t depend on someone else’s calls. They, just like the Bruins, can only depend on themselves. Play through until you hear the whistle. Don’t put yourself in a position to get anything ticky-tack called, good penalty or not. Just take care of your own business and by ten tonight, there will be a party in downtown St. Louis that the city has seen since 2011.
This town loves its game sixes.