BOSTON — If the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7, perhaps Steve Hatze Petros should get his name on the Stanley Cup.
He is the NHL schedule-maker, making him the most responsible for a January-March stretch when the Blues didn’t play more than one consecutive home game at a time. It was a virtual 70-day road trip that forced a team with a half-dozen new faces to come together under coach Craig Berube. It also helped them put up a 9-3 road record in the playoffs, and it is a big reason the Blues say they feel totally at home playing for the Cup on Wednesday in Boston.
“It was a time for us to get to know each other better,” center Ryan O’Reilly said. “We got out and got away, got the chance to go to the rink together every day, eat together every day. I think that’s where we found our identity and came together.”
The Blues front office has tried to replicate life on the road by having players stay in a hotel at home, but they are just 6-7 in St. Louis in the playoffs.
“I think when you’re at home, you’re maybe trying to play a little differently at times,” Berube said.
Quieting what should be a raucous crowd on hand for the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in Boston is easier said than done. St. Louis did that in Game 2 to tie the series and is brimming with confidence, unfazed by the lack of home-ice advantage in the final game of the season.
“We’re excited, and we’re happy to get back on the road,” winger Patrick Maroon said. “I think this where we jell the best.”
The Bruins have won seven of 12 home games in the playoffs. Coach Bruce Cassidy said playing for home-ice advantage all season is for a situation just like this, but the road warrior Blues don’t seem concerned.
“We just seem to like it,” defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. “We just keep putting up good results on the road. I don’t know why, but it seems to be working for us. We’ll try to keep that going.”