NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Saturday’s Stanley Cup Final rematch between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Family played a big part in helping Tuukka Rask and Torey Krug get over their Game 7 defeat to the Blues in last season’s Stanley Cup Final. Coming so close to the Bruins’ ultimate goal but falling short was difficult to accept, but getting away from the rink and back to their loved ones helped soften the blow.
“It’s such a long and intense run,” Rask told NBC Sports. “You play every other day for pretty much two-and-a-half months and then all of a sudden you just hit a wall and it’s over. Unfortunately for us we lost and that’s the way it ended. Personally, it didn’t take too long to get over. Obviously, you have family at home and other things to think about when you get home, but you just realize that it’s sports and it’s a game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and that’s that.
“But then again, I don’t think you ever get over that. You’re going to have flashbacks of the games and what went wrong and what went right, but you just have to deal with it and move on.”
For Krug, he had different kind of life moment take place in the days following that loss. Five days after the series ended, Krug’s wife Melanie gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Saylor Harper. But while the new family addition helped shift his focus as a player and a person, the sting from the missed opportunity remains.
“I don’t think it’s something you’ll ever get over,” said Krug. “I think it’s something you just have to live with and understand. I was part of the team that lost in ’13 to Chicago, but I never had a chance to actually clinch and win a Stanley Cup like we did [last season] in our own building. This one’s right up there as one of the hardest things you go through as an athlete. You’ve got to find a way to live with it and use it as motivation. You’ll never get the chance to go back and replay that game, so you’ve got to do something in the meantime to prove that you can go back and do it again.”
Four months after they last met, the Bruins and Blues will be back at TD Garden Saturday night for a Stanley Cup Final rematch. Boston is off to a good start with a 6-1-2 record, while the defending champions have come out of the gate at 5-2-3.
A win Saturday night won’t reverse the outcome from June, but it can provide an early season boost for a team that is experiencing no hangover from a long 2018-19 season.
“People always assume when you go through that and you play them the next year, ‘Are you going to get your revenge?’ Well, if we beat them we’re not getting a Stanley Cup back, so that’s forever theirs,” Krug said. “That’s unfortunate for us, but I think anytime you go through a series of that magnitude there’s going to be some rivalries that are renewed and you hate playing against certain players and that is just how it is. I’m sure it will be more of an intense game; There’s times even when we play Chicago today and from 2013 that Finals series, that are a little more intense than normal. It’ll pick up and that rivalry will be fun to be part of.”
Like the Blues, the 2019-20 Bruins roster doesn’t feature a whole lot of new faces. It’s a group that possesses a strong core, a handful of players with Cup rings, and some who were on their last two Cup Final teams that fell short. They remain hungry for another title run while their window remains open and the tough losses they’ve experienced can be galvanizing.
“I think in order to win you have to go through some really gut wrenching times,” said Krug. “A loss like that is pretty much as close as you can get to that. We have a great core group, we have great young players that are excited and want to be part of the team and want to be part of that core moving forward, guys that are never satisfied between winning awards and going to the Cup Finals, winning a Cup in 2011, those guys continue to remain hungry.
“That’s going to drive our bus and drive our team. We’ll get back there because we have a great goaltender and we have a great group moving forward, and we’re all hungry.”
Mike Emrick, Mike Milbury and Brian Boucher will call Blues-Bruins from TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Kathryn Tappen will anchor Saturday’s doubleheader coverage with Keith Jones and Anson Carter.
After Bruins-Blues, coverage heads outdoors to Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, at 10 p.m. ET (livestream), when Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets face Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.