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One More Game

A journey that began nine months ago in China will culminate on Wednesday night in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - Johnston, Rhode Island.

Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec.

Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Ottawa, Ontario.

Trencin, Slovakia.

Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Edmonton, Alberta.

Langley, British Columbia.

Landskrona, Sweden.

Sternberk, Czech Republic.

Esko, Minnesota.

Dublin, Ohio.

Stockholm, Sweden.

Hairov, Czech Republic.

Walpole, Massachusetts.

Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Long Branch, New Jersey.

Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Long Beach, New York.

Livonia, Michigan.

Winnetka, Illinois.

Savonlinna, Finland.

Bratislava, Slovakia.

For the Bruins that will take part in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, those places are home.

They were also the backdrops for their dreams.

Every player - and coach, for that matter - in Boston's dressing room grew up envisioning themselves in this very situation: The pinnacle of hockey. One game for the Stanley Cup.

"Coldrey Avenue in the West End of Ottawa is where I played it growing up with my brother and lots of buddies. Like a lot of kids, I was Bobby Orr," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "If I didn't score in Game 7 and we lose, we played it again. That's the way it went, right?"

Video: Cassidy looks ahead to Game 7

Unfortunately for one of the teams involved on Wednesday night, that will not be the case this time around. A brutal battle between the Bruins and Blues has come down to this - one final showdown to determine the National Hockey League's best.

"I think that every hockey player can say that at one point in your life, or plenty of times, they've dreamed of being in a position like this," said Brad Marchand. "But it's much different when you're going through it and realizing how exciting and hard it is. You just have so much more appreciation for what we've been through and the road we've taken to get here.

"It's a very special opportunity, regardless of how it plays out tomorrow. It's been a special adventure with this group. Hopefully it ends on a good note…it's gonna be a very hard-fought battle."

Win or lose, it will be the culmination of a long and grueling journey for the Black & Gold, whose season began nine months ago with a preseason trip halfway across the world.

From that trek to China last September, to a thrilling finish at the Winter Classic in South Bend on New Year's Day, to this two-month grind through Toronto, Columbus, Carolina, and St. Louis, the Bruins have been through it all.

"It's been fantastic," said Brandon Carlo. "You want to extend your season as long as you possibly can. It's awesome to be in this position. Obviously, when you take a step back, I feel very blessed to be here. It's been a long journey.

"We started off in China which is crazy to think all the way back to that. Feels like three years ago…it's just been fantastic."

And the Bruins hope it has a fantastic ending.

"It's winner take all…not much needs to be said," said Charlie Coyle. "It's not hard to get up for these games. It's the biggest game of the year, obviously. We just have to be ready to go.

"I don't think we're going to change anything. We're going to play the way we play and the way we prepare. The older guys leading the way and everyone else pulling their weight too.

"We need everyone. That's what it's been this whole year, this playoffs. Everyone is doing their part. Tomorrow should be no different."

Video: Marchand and Rask talk following final practice

The Black & Gold will undoubtedly have a boost from their home crowd as Boston plays its first-ever Stanley Cup Final Game 7 on Causeway Street.

"We're expecting the fans to be awesome," said Patrice Bergeron. "Obviously the energy is going to be electric. The atmosphere is going to be - I can't even imagine how it's going to be like. You have to manage that in a way, use that to your advantage and you get energy. Also make sure you're focused on the game."

With Boston's veteran, championship-tested core leading the way that won't be difficult. Bergeron, Marchand, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and Zdeno Chara - who will be playing in an NHL record 14th Game 7 - all went through a winner-take-all Cup Final contest in 2011.

"It's huge," said Noel Acciari. "Hearing Bergy's experience, Zee's experiences…Bergy had a speech before last game that was so inspiring, and every guy just feeds off that. Game 7, Stanley Cup Final, what more can you ask for? It's going to be exciting."

That it is. And for the men that have gathered from all around the world to make up this edition of the Boston Bruins, it's the opportunity of a lifetime.

"For me, it was out in the street playing street hockey," Carlo said when asked where he first dreamed of being in this scenario. "Was out there every single day. Definitely emulating those kinds of moments with making stuff up in your head. [It's] so much fun to be a part of it now."

Video: Chara set to play 14th Game 7

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