Several Bruins know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, but the same group also understands the feeling of coming up short. That adds to the experience advantage that Boston has entering the final.
Torey Krug during the 2013 Stanley Cup final|Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
BOSTON – When people talk about the experience advantage the Boston Bruins have over the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup final, the shiny Stanley Cup rings on the fingers of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask serve as a reminder to the Bruins that they have been there and done that before. And there is a ton of wisdom to be gleaned from that experience in 2011, when the Bruins came from down 2-0 in the final and won Game 7 on the road to take the Cup.
But as the Bruins enter Game 1 tonight, those same players, along with defenseman Torey Krug, know that just as much can be learned from losing as from winning. They were all part of the team that lost the Stanley Cup final two years later to the Chicago Blackhawks. The pain is still there, and it particularly stings that the Bruins blew a 2-1 series lead and were 1:16 away from sending the series to Game 7 before giving up two goals in 17 seconds on home ice.
Krug is the only player on the Bruins roster who has not won a Stanley Cup final, but has lost one, so he has a unique perspective on the situation. “I know for myself personally, that feeling after losing in 2013 was crushing,” Krug said. “It was tough. And it makes you realize how few and far between trips to the final are and you have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.”
For Brad Marchand, the 2,163 days since that loss to Chicago has not exactly dulled the pain. The Bruins were on something of a magical run that spring. The final came months after the Boston Marathon bombing and the Bruins were providing a much-needed reprieve from the aftermath. But they simply could not get it done, in part because Marchand, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, was held pointless in the final. “It was so sweet to win, but it hurts to lose,” Marchand said. “It was devastating. It still hurts to this day. I probably look back more on the loss and what I would do differently than the win. When you lose something like that when you’re that close and you work that hard, it never leaves you. Hopefully we don’t feel that again.”
And therein might be the advantage the Bruins are seeking. The motivation to avoid the feeling of losing a Stanley Cup final might be as strong as the desire to win. The Blues not only have no Stanley Cup rings in their dressing room, the only player on their roster who has gone to a Stanley Cup final is David Perron, who got to the dance last season with the Vegas Golden Knights.
“It’s a huge motivator,” Krug said. “I never want to feel that way again, to be honest. And I think the same thing can be said for the guys who are 1-1 in the final because they know how sweet it tastes when they were able to get it done and they know the other side when you have to watch the other team celebrate, especially in your own building. It’s a crushing feeling. Words are hard to find when you go through something like that.”
One thing the Bruins do know is that there is probably nothing in this series that they haven’t experienced before. They came back from an 0-2 deficit against the Canucks in 2011. They lost three straight after taking a 2-1 series lead in 2013. They played long overtime games. “Whatever comes up, you can look back and use it as experience and it’s something that is kind of useful,” Zdeno Chara said.
When Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was asked on the eve of the final what he thought his team’s biggest advantage over the Blues is in the series, he was very wary of providing bulletin board material. But he did acknowledge the experience factor is decidedly in his team’s favor. “Experience. I’ll go the easy route,” he said. “I just believe that our guys that have been there, that have won a Cup, have lost a Cup, that should give us an edge. Some people disagree with that once you’re here, but I believe it will give us an edge. I think it’s helped us a lot this week in the preparation, with all the down time, and hopefully going forward that is an advantage for us.”
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