The Boston Bruins have played in some raucous buildings this postseason. TD Garden has been extremely loud almost every night, while the arenas in Toronto, Columbus, and Carolina have rattled to their foundations, too. The challenge that will face the Bruins tomorrow night in St. Louis is unique to anything else they have faced this postseason.
St. Louis is an underrated as a hockey market. No one would label it a ‘hockey hotbed,’ but St. Louis has slowly emerged as one of the best markets for the sport in the country. Look no further than the talent the city has churned out in recent years and the consistent sellout crowds at Enterprise Center.
Blues fans have waited 49 years for this moment. Saturday night the Stanley Cup Final will return for the first time since 1970, and the fanbase which has dealt with more heartbreak than joy will have their chance to push their team closer to hockey’s ultimate prize. Think you heard Gloria sung loud earlier this spring? Just wait until a home victory for St. Louis which pushes them closer to the Stanley Cup.
It’s going to be raucus. It’s going to be intimidating. The Bruins are no stranger to this environment, though. Patrice Bergeron has played in three Stanley Cups and has pretty much seen it all when it comes to wild crowds.
“We know it’s going to be electric” admitted Bergeron. “There’s a buzz in St. Louis right now, on their team. No different than how it was here in Boston. We’ve been through it before.” Bergeron has especially been through it before. He’s played playoff games in intimidating buildings in Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York. He’s been there and done that. His calm demeanor allows him to handle the situation like just another day at the office.
What about the guys without the experience of Bergeron? “I think some of the young guys, Carolina was very loud, it was a loud building, not necessarily easy to play in.”
So how do you handle that atmosphere? Bergeron has had success on the road in the playoffs, even winning a Game 7 in the Final on the road in 2011. “I think it’s always about simplifying your game and taking it not a shift at a time, but a period at a time. I think the first goal is always huge in the game. It’s about worrying about what you can control, how you play.”
The Bruins know tomorrow night will be a tough spot. They’ll walk into a building ready to explode with noise and a fanbase that won’t need much reason to get involved. Bergeron and the leadership group have been there and done that before. Their experiences will invaluable in Game 3.