After 252 days, 82 regular season games, and 23 energy-depleting playoff games, the 2018-19 Boston Bruins will conclude their season tonight in Boston.
They will either win the most prestigious prize in pro sports, or they will watch another team from another city raise Lord Stanley's Cup on the Garden ice for the second time in seven years.
For as great as this run in Boston sports has been this century, winning titles in front of the hometown crowd has been relatively rare. Of the 12 championships won by Boston teams since 2002, only two titles have been clinched in the city of Boston (2008 Celtics and 2013 Red Sox).
Lifting the Cup toward the heavens while 17,000 of your hometown fans have an out-of-body experience has to be the most exhilarating feeling you can have as an athlete. And there's a solid chance this could happen for Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand and the gang this evening.
Win or lose tonight, Rask is likely to be the Conn Smythe trophy recipient, which is given to the Most Valuable Player from the Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s been that good.
The trophy has been given to a player that lost in the Cup Final five times, most recently to Jean-Sebastien Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks in 2003.
Worlds more important than the Conn Smythe is – of course - getting the Cup tonight. The Bruins will be asking a lot of Rask to shut down an opponent one last time, but at this point Herculean efforts by the B’s netminder have come to be expected.
Rask hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a game since Game 4 of the first round against Toronto. In the Cup Final, he’s been at his best as here are his goals allowed for each game in the series.
Game 1: 2
Game 2: 3
Game 3: 2
Game 4: 3
Game 5: 2
Game 6: 1
Perhaps the most remarkable numbers of all this postseason concern what Rask has done in games in which the Bruins can clinch a series. In Game 7 of the first round against the Maple Leafs, Rask made 32 saves and allowed just one goal in a 5-1 Boston win.
In Game 6 of the semi-finals against Columbus, Rask made 39 stops and shutout the Blue Jackets in a 3-0 Bruins victory.
In the last round against Carolina (which seems like it took place six months ago, by the way), Rask again pitched a shutout in the clincher. In Game 4 on the road, Rask stopped 24 shots en route to a 4-0 B’s win.
The problem for the Bruins this time, however, is that Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has been nearly as impressive as Rask this entire postseason. He also has been responding extremely well to bad outings in the playoffs.
There have been fives games this postseason in which Binnington has given up four goals or more. In the next games following those clunkers, Binnington has allowed two goals or less in each of them.
The Bruins hung four goals on Binnington in Game 6 in St. Louis. The good money says that the 25-year-old rookie will respond well.
Good seats are still available … if you’re willing to pay the equivalent of a monthly rent check.
The average Game 7 ticket being sold on the secondary market as of Tuesday afternoon was just north of $3,000.
Here were what some of the good seats for going for on Tuesday at StubHub.
Loge Glass 11: $14,375
Loge Glass 11: 11,244
Loge Glass 6: 10,450
If you don’t have that type of disposable income, there is an option to watch the B’s in a large gathering among other fans. Game 7 will stream live inside the Bruins’ practice facility at Warrior Ice Arena.
The watch party is free to attend and seats are available on a first-come, first serve basis.
Warrior Ice Arena is located in Brighton at 90 Guest Street.