Game Seven. Are there two better words in sports?

For the first time in franchise history, the Boston Bruins will play on home ice in a Game 7 that decides the NHL championship. Nine months after reporting for training camp, Coach Bruce Cassidy’s team will end the season at TD Garden on Wednesday night. Gary Bettman will hand over the Stanley Cup to the winner.

Two weeks ago most Bruins fans thought this was going to be a quick, easy series with the St. Louis Blues. All the supposed heavyweights were gone. The league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning were ousted in the first round. So were the defending-champion Washington Capitals. The heavyweights of the West (Calgary, San Jose) were knocked out along the way.

The Blues? They were the worst team in the NHL on New Year’s Day. A nice story and all, but did you really think they’d be a worthy opponent for the Bruins team that featured superior talent?

They have been exactly that. And thank goodness. This has been a spectacular series that has featured drama on the ice and off of it.

We’ve had a little bit of everything in this series. Both sides feel they have been the victims of poor officiating. Blues Coach Craig Berube called out the officials after Game 3 in St. Louis for what he thought were too many calls against his team. It seemed to work. After taking 14 penalty minutes in Game 3, the Blues spent only 12 minutes in the box combined over the next two games.


One Blues player who wasn’t penalized in Game 5 was Tyler Bozak, whose blatant trip of Boston’s Noel Acciari in the third period of that game was seen by everyone except the NHL officials on the ice. Play continued, the Blues scored, and the Bruins were incensed.

St. Louis had the chance to win it all at home Sunday night. Planning for their first NHL championship, team chairman Tom Stillman wrote a letter thanking fans and planning out a championship parade.

“We can finally say, ‘We won the Cup for St. Louis.’ ”

They didn’t get to say that on Sunday night. Not after a 5-1 Bruins win that brought the series back to Boston.

These things don’t usually end well for a team putting out premature celebratory signals. We all remember the Red Sox painting the World Series logo on the field at Fenway Park before Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Grady Little made sure that Series went through the Bronx when he left Pedro Martinez in too long against the Yankees.

You better believe none of the Bruins will be talking about a parade before Game 7. These Blues have earned Boston’s respect with a hard-fought six games. They’ve also earned the ire of Black and Gold Nation. St. Louis is a tough, physical, chippy team that plays in the image of Berube, who as a player amassed 3,149 penalty minutes – seventh-most in NHL history.

The Bruins have responded with their own toughness. You want tough? Zdeno Chara may have suffered a broken jaw and hasn’t missed a game. The final two teams standing are here because they refuse to be knocked out.

Wednesday night, one of them will. It’s only fitting that this heavyweight bout is coming down to the final round.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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