"Just street hockey by myself," the Bruins center and longtime fan said. "That's when you're talking to yourself, going through scenarios.
This one came up a lot."
[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]
For St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn, Game 7 of the Cup Final would change location based on the day.
Video: BOS@STL, Gm4: Schenn seals win with empty-net goal
If it was a weekday, it would be on any of the three backyard rinks on Hurley Crescent in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where Schenn and his brother, Luke, a defenseman with the Vancouver Canucks, grew up. On the weekends, the Schenns, Mitch Berg, Jimmy Bubnick and others would walk over to Erindale Pond and use the big ice to play for their homemade Stanley Cup.
"[Looked] like the Cup, aluminum foil," Schenn said. "A lot of Game 7s."
The Bruins and Blues will play Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Bruins players Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask have all lived this game once before, in 2011 against the Canucks, a 4-0 win at Rogers Arena. For most everybody else, especially the North American players, it's their childhood fantasy becoming reality.
"For me, I was always in Colorado playing in the street and I would emulate the Colorado Avalanche playing against Detroit because of that rivalry," said Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, who grew up in Colorado Springs. "I couldn't imagine actually being in it."
Video: BOS@STL, Gm6: Carlo tallies on bouncing puck
Carlo would play mostly with his best friend and neighbor, Haden Jordan, whose family introduced Carlo to hockey after moving to Colorado Springs from Marshfield, Massachusetts, which is about an hour south of Boston, with Weymouth serving as roughly the midpoint between the two.
"He was always wearing Boston Bruins stuff growing up," Carlo said of Haden. "He had a Boston Bruins comforter, Boston Bruins' wallpaper in his room. Then I got drafted by the Bruins and it seemed surreal. It came full circle with Boston."
Carlo bought a blow-up replica of the Stanley Cup on a trip to Toronto to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame one year. He and Haden along with Carlo's brother Jeff, who is five years his senior, friend Zach Zimmerman and some others would play for it.
"We'd have little tournaments," Carlo said. "There would be bets on it, like 'You've got to go get the sandwiches from mom.' It was a blast. We'd be out there all day every day."
Sometimes, Carlo would go solo and try to win the Cup by himself.
"Especially after you've seen teams win the Cup, you see the excitement and it lights a fire under you," Carlo said. "The next couple of days after that I'd go out and do it myself, try to think of it, what it would feel like."
The result was always the same.
"You never lose in your dreams," Carlo said.
Blues forward Pat Maroon rarely lost when he played in the basement of his home in Oakville, Missouri, against his brothers, cousins and friends for their own version of the Stanley Cup.
Video: Local hero Pat Maroon has the Blues in the Cup Final
"It was gold and brown and we carved our names in it," Maroon said. "It wasn't pretty. It was a bowl with wood on the bottom. We'd scratch our names in."
They'd call out the lineups and Maroon, whose nickname is "Big Rig," said he would pound on his brothers, Phil and Justin.
"Now you're getting texts from your buddies and your brothers and family saying, 'You used to do this in the basement,'" Maroon said. "Now it's winner-take-all and you get to go live that dream out."
Blues center Ryan O'Reilly used to live it out with his older brother Cal, a forward in the Minnesota Wild organization who has played 145 NHL games with the Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and Wild.
They'd either play on roller blades or ice skates on their backyard sports pad, or in the loft of the barn on their property in Brucefield, Ontario. Cal would paint lines in the barn and a circle in the middle with O'Reilly Center written inside. The nets would be on each side.
Their mom, Bonnie, made them a Stanley Cup with a bowl and tinfoil.
"When we were young we were winning it together," O'Reilly said. "When we got older we started battling with each other, pushing each other.
"I can remember winning that tons of times up there [in the barn]. It's what you dream about."
There were times when O'Reilly, like Carlo and Coyle and so many others, would go solo on the sports pad, the Cup on the line, pretending he was Pavel Bure or Wayne Gretzky.
"I would throw everything I possibly could out there like bikes and my sister's toys and I would just stickhandle through them and have my own games in my head," he said. "Won a lot."
Coyle said he imagined himself in a Bruins jersey scoring the Game 7 winner.
"You always envision yourself trying to get there one day so you always make believe you're actually playing," Coyle said.
Growing up on Coldrey Avenue in the west end of Ottawa, Bruce Cassidy never stood on the side of the street in a suit watching his brother and friends play Game 7 for the Stanley Cup. Boston's coach was always in it, pretending he was Bruins legend Bobby Orr.
"If I didn't score in Game 7 and we lost, we'd play it again," Cassidy said. "That's the way it went. I never imagined myself as a kid coaching in it, I'm not going to lie to you. But here I am. It's the next best thing."
It's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
"This is a moment every kid dreams of," Maroon said.
Listen: Game 7 preview from NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast