BOSTON -- Ask Anson Carter who he's rooting for in the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues and you'll get a diplomatic answer.
"I'm Switzerland," he said.
Carter, an NBC hockey analyst and former NHL forward, is a neutral party in the Final despite playing four of his 11 NHL seasons for the Bruins and bumping into former Boston teammates and prominent alumni in the corridors of TD Garden.
"I really try hard to separate myself from former Boston Bruins alumni/fan to someone who's supposed to look at the game and call the game from both sides," Carter said. "I keep having to remind myself that there's two teams out there. I try to look at the game from both teams' perspectives."
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But that doesn't absolve Carter from the analyst's task of predicting a winner in the best-of-7 series that's tied and resumes with Game 5 in Boston on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS). He picked the Blues to win in six or seven games.
"I didn't think it would be easy," Carter said. "I thought both teams would have the ability to throw that first punch and I also thought that both teams have that ability to respond. It's like a heavyweight fight. Each team is a mirror image of one another. It's really going to come down to who gets a lucky break and which goalie (Boston's Tuukka Rask or St. Louis' Jordan Binnington) cracks first."
Carter's prediction is business, not personal. He is fond of Boston. He had 143 of his 421 NHL points (202 goals, 219 assists) with the Bruins, met his wife in the city and began growing the dreadlocks that famously flowed from his helmet here.
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The roots of the hairstyle began with a bet between Carter and then-Bruins teammates Joe Thornton and Jason Allison that he couldn't grow an Afro.
"After I grew the Afro, my sister was the one who suggested that I twist my hair," Carter said. "I went to this lady in Boston, this hair salon, I sat in this chair for two hours getting my locks twisted in beeswax. Once your hair starts locking, it starts growing like weeds. It was just a matter of trimming and maintaining so I could see out the side of my helmet."
His new 'do caught the eye of the late Pat Burns, who was Boston's coach and no stranger to hairstyling himself. He wanted to make sure that Harry Sinden, the Bruins' old-school general manager at the time, got a glimpse of Carter's new look, too.
"The very first day I got it done, [Burns] walked into the dressing room and he was like, 'What the hell is going on with your salad?'" Carter said. "He's like, 'You're starting tonight, for sure. I can't wait to see the look on Harry's face.'"