ST. LOUIS – “Sellout crowd” would be an understatement at Enterprise Center on Sunday night.
“Jam-packed, overflow frenzy” might do it more justice.
Every possible nook and cranny of the building seemed to be filled with someone who’d waited a lifetime to see their beloved St. Louis Blues hoist the Stanley Cup, with Game 6 against the Boston Bruins serving as perhaps their only chance to do so. They’d all waited 49 years just for another chance at winning it – winning it for the first time, by the way – so money was seemingly no object.
Just a chance to see what many believe to be the best trophy in sports was worth it; the get-in price a few hours before the game on the secondary market approached $2,000.
It didn’t matter.
Not a single seat was empty, not a single place to stand with even a glimpse of the ice was available once that puck dropped.
Sure enough, about a minute or two before the final whistle was set to blow, Phil Pritchard, the “Keeper of the Cup,” wheeled a heavy, non-descript black crate towards the Zamboni gate…and then he kept right on going, past the Zamboni gate, to the exit and prepared to travel with the shiny piece of hockey history all the way back to Boston.
The Bruins used four third-period goals to blow out the Blues, 5-1, and send the Stanley Cup Final to a seventh game for the first time since 2011.
By the time Pritchard reached the outside, the Cup went off into an empty St. Louis night. An estimated 40,000 people who had gathered nearby the arena for a downtown watch party had mostly dissipated, with little to celebrate.
Maybe they’ve gotten over their disappointment. Maybe not. What matters going forward, though, is whether the players have. Blues head coach Craig Berube told reporters who stuck around in St. Louis on Monday afternoon not to worry about that.
“They're already over it,” he said. “Every kid, every player dreams about a Game 7. They probably played a hundred of them in their heads already as a kid or even adult, whatever. That's over with, Game 6. They've moved on from that already.”
The series shifts to Boston for Game 7 on Wednesday night, marking the first time in the 95-year history of the Bruins franchise that they’ll host the seventh game of a Stanley Cup Final.
Berube’s club may be over the Sunday night disappointment, but he was certainly willing to concede that there were going to be plenty of nerves once the game gets going in Boston.
“Yeah, I mean, you're going to be nervous,” he said. “That's natural. You should be. It means you care and you want to do well. But once you drop the puck, you get a shift in or two shifts in, that goes away, you just play hockey. That's what it really boils down to. It's just about the effort and competitiveness and getting some bounces, winning your one-on-one battles. That kind of stuff is what you focus on out there.
“We just got to go play. Like I said, everybody's going to be nervous. You got to get out there and get a couple shifts in, get that under your belt, then you just play hockey. Again, we got to play our game. We're an aggressive, physical hockey team, forecheck, get on the forecheck. That's the way we play. That's the way we got to play Game 7.”