BOSTON -- The St. Louis Blues would have preferred to play Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at home on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
But they might be better off playing it at TD Garden.
The Blues are 9-3 on the road in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 2-1 in the Cup Final, and have consistently played their best hockey away from Enterprise Center, where they are 6-7 this postseason. So in a winner-take-all game for the Stanley Cup, they might have the Bruins exactly where they want them.
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"I just think we get to our game easier on the road," Blues forward Pat Maroon said. "Maybe (we're) thinking too much at home. Being at home, there could be pressure or whatever. It should be no excuses, but I just feel like we get to our game (on the road). We find ways to make it difficult on the opponent and we do it pretty good."
During a 5-1 loss in Game 6 on Sunday, the Blues appeared to be impacted by the pressure of trying to win the Cup on home ice with the city of St. Louis in a frenzy in anticipation of the first championship in their 51-season history. But the Bruins also had something to do with that, playing one of their best games of the series after withstanding the Blues' initial push.
Being on the road, where they can get away from some of the distractions at home, might take away some of that pressure and allow the Blues to concentrate on playing their game.
"I think when you're at home you maybe try to play a little differently at times," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "But on the road, it's more of a simple approach, I think, directness, predictable. That probably has a lot to do with it. We've been a good road team for a long time. I think we feel pretty comfortable on the road."
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Goalie Jordan Binnington has been a big part of the Blues' road playoff success, going 9-3 with a 2.26 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and one shutout. The rookie has also been at his best following a loss in the postseason, going 7-2 with a 1.86 GAA and .933 save percentage.
"He's been amazing since he came in the lineup and made an impact," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "But in high-pressure games, it's him just (being) even keel. He's out there, he's making phenomenal saves and there's no emotion. It's just on to the next play. It's amazing to see how calm he is there.
"I think it's great for us as a team. We know that if we're good in front of him, he's going to be making those saves and we're going to have a good chance."
The Blues were 21-13-7 on the road during the regular season, including 15-6-5 from Jan. 7 on, when they made their climb from last place in the NHL to third in the Central Division. With a win Wednesday, they'd tie the League record for most road wins in a single postseason with the 1995 New Jersey Devils (10-1), the 2012 Los Angeles Kings (10-1), the 2000 Devils (10-2), the 2018 Washington Capitals (10-3) and the 2004 Calgary Flames (10-4).
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The Flames were the lone team in that group that didn't win the Stanley Cup.
"It's a simple mindset really," Blues forward Alexander Steen said. "I think we don't try to change too much whether we've been at home or on the road. We have been successful on the road. I think it's the simplicity of our game. I think we get to it right away off the hop and we'll be looking to do that again tomorrow."
So although home teams have gone 12-4 in the previous 16 Game 7s in the Cup Final (road teams have won the past two), and T.D. Garden will no doubt be loud in anticipation of seeing the Bruins win the Cup at home for the first time since 1970, the Blues won't be uncomfortable. They plan for it to be a normal night on the road Wednesday, spending time together at their hotel one last time before their final game of the season.
"I told the guys, 'The game's not today, so relax and enjoy the day. Don't overthink it,'" Berube said. "The game's tomorrow and we'll go in, it'll be a regular routine and nerves are nerves. Everybody's got nerves. Like I said before, it's OK to be nervous. It means you care, and you want to be successful and do well. Once you get on the ice and you have a shift or two, nerves go away and you just play hockey.
"The team that executes the best and does their job probably is going to win the game."
Listen: Game 7 preview from NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast