Tonight, at 8 pm Eastern, the NHL will enjoy its first Stanley Cup Final game seven in eight years. The drama will be heightened to new levels, the reffing is sure to be controversial, and a very back-and-forth series will come to a close. With everything on the line, who will rise to the occasion? Will the Blues finally claim their first cup after a half century of misery? Or will the rich get richer, and the city of Boston claim their third championship of this sports calendar year? Which city will end the night rioting in the streets? If you guessed Vancouver for the latter question, there’s a betting chance you are correct. As for all the others, one game is left to determine everything, and anything can, and probably will, happen.
One of the best (and perhaps worst) aspects of an NHL game is the minuscule events that occur in just the right way that lead to the game's eventual final outcome. One post, one bounce, one save, one shot often is the difference between victory and defeat, so there is pressure every shift to a) make something happen and b) make sure that something is not really, really bad. That pressure increases tenfold in the playoffs, and a hundredfold in a winner-take-all game seven. The Bruins and the Blues both deserve to be here, with each team turning in three good performances in the series, but come tomorrow, one team will be labeled "not mentally tough enough", or "not motivated enough", or the dreaded "not big enough". Both of these teams are talented enough, strong enough, and motivated enough to win the Stanley Cup tonight, to think otherwise would certainly be a mistake. The Blues are an excellent road team with plenty of composure and talented playmakers to get the job done, and the Bruins are a well-constructed, balanced team that will have both the home crowd behind them and extra momentum from a game six victory. Anything is possible for tonight's game, and as a neutral observer, nothing could be more exciting than that prospect. Enjoying the constructed narratives that will come out tomorrow will be a nice bonus as well, and I look forward to discovering why team X was "not worthy enough" to win. So how do I think tonight will go?
-The microscopic moment that will allow the Bruins to win: A Patrice Bergeron faceoff win will allow the Bruins to, one last time, flex their powerplay muscles, which culminates in a Torey Krug slapshot goal. This separates the Bruins by a couple, and they go on to win 4-1. (For full comedic effect, this occurs on an egregious penalty that will be referenced continuously throughout the summer. This is the darkest timeline.)
-The microscopic moment that will allow the Blues to win: An excellent Parayko defensive-zone breakout leads to a four-on-three rush that lets Brayden Schenn find enough separation to rip the game-tying goal past Tuuka Rask. (For full comedic effect, the Blues win in overtime when Vince Dunn scores in the exact same fashion as Bobby Orr.)
My predicted score: Bruins 4, Blues 1
Conn Smythe Winner: Tuuka Rask