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Sanford looks forward to facing Bruins

Zach Sanford will play in Game 3, replacing Oskar Sundqvist in the lineup

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - Zach Sanford grew up about 40 minutes north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts.

His dad was a Boston Bruins fan. His mom was a Bruins fan. So was the rest of his family.

Heck, even Sanford himself was a Bruins fan.

Now, the 24-year-old winger for the Blues will play against the Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"It's going to be fun I think. It's a little weird playing against your team growing up," Sanford said. "I was talking to my mom and she was at the games in Boston and she caught herself cheering for the Bruins here and there. We had to fix that. It's pretty crazy how things work out."

Sanford, who played two years of college hockey for Boston College and was traded to the Blues in the 2017 deal that sent Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals, is getting his chance in Game 3 because the NHL handed Oskar Sundqvist a one-game suspension for his hit against Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in Game 2.

Blues Head Coach Craig Berube confirmed the decision to play Sanford during his morning press conference before Game 3.

"He's got some experience this year in the playoffs, he's a good defenisve player and penalty killer," Berube said. "That was one of the reasons we went with him."

Video: Hear from Sanford before Game 3

Sanford played 60 regular-season games for the Blues in 2018-19, even getting some early-season playing time on Ryan O'Reilly's line. He scored eight goals and 12 assists (20 points) and played in the first three playoff games against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round. He is expected to play on the fourth line alongside Ivan Barbashev and Alexander Steen.

It's been more than six weeks since he last played in a game, but Sanford doesn't think rust will be an issue.

"I've felt pretty good so far in conditioning and puck touches," Sanford said about staying sharp in practice. "Hopefully I can shake the nerves early and get a couple of hits, get a couple puck plays and just go from there."

One of Sanford's biggest memories from growing up a Bruins fan include having a Brian Rolston stick as a kid. But recalling that story on Friday is the last time he's going to think about that for awhile.

"I'm not really a Bruins fan anymore," he said. "It's time for us to get our own banners here."

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