The 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues concludes with Game 7 on Wednesday. NHL.com writers covering the series will provide a daily Stanley Cup Final postcard from whatever city they're in. Today, staff writer Amalie Benjamin reflects on the Bruins' road to the game that will decide the 2019 Stanley Cup champions.
BEDFORD, Mass. -- It was nine months ago when I stood in an airplane hangar at Logan Airport, waiting. Then, I had a suitcase next to me, a spot on an (incredibly posh) airplane ahead of me, when we waited to board a 16-hour flight to Beijing, the 2018 NHL China Games ahead of us.
It seems like a long, long time ago.
Now I'm standing in an airplane hangar at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, and again, I'm waiting. This time, though, I'm waiting for a plane to land. I'm waiting to talk to Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy and forwards Marcus Johansson and Karson Kuhlman, two players who were either not on the Bruins or on anyone's radar back in September.
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And yet, here I am. Here we are.
There are three days remaining in the 2018-19 season, and what a ride it's been. It's certainly not one I anticipated back when we stood there, waiting for that plane, learning for the first time that longtime Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid would not be joining us. McQuaid was traded to the New York Rangers for Steven Kampfer, then considered a depth defenseman, but one who finally made it onto the ice for the Stanley Cup Final and is one of the 21 Bruins players to have scored in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
I saw the inklings of what this team would become back then, when a flip-flop clad Brad Marchand literally put David Pastrnak on his back when we walked along the Great Wall of China. The players came together through good experiences and more challenging experiences, through equipment being held up at customs and canceled practices, through haggling over prices at the silk market and playing in front of a still-learning group of fans.
The Bruins spent eight days in China bonding, starting to form a team. They began to integrate players who would become instrumental in their success, players like Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy, Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner, players who will compete on the highest stage imaginable in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
There is a bond that forms when teams spend time together like that, when they get to know each other outside of the rink, off the ice, when they go through new experiences and see new cultures together. It's not the first time that the Bruins have done it, having made a preseason trip to Prague the last time they reached this point -- Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks and got their names engraved on the Cup.
Whether the Bruins win or lose Wednesday, it's a season that has taken them farther and further than perhaps anyone could have imagined in September. I'm glad I got to be along for the ride.
Listen: Game 7 preview from NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast