This year, it’s the equivalent of a mid-December game when the season is no longer new, and checkpoints like the All-Star break and trade deadline are a long way off: It’s difficult to stay interested and motivated, unless you’re the type who pays close attention to those who suddenly get a …

The Bruins lost a soul-crushing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, so changes are coming. Then again, changes would be on the way even if the B’s had won on Wednesday night and jubilation abounded.

ST. LOUIS -- Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots Sunday night as the Boston Bruins spoiled the St. Louis Blues' plans to skate the Stanley Cup around Enterprise Center, winning 5-1 in Game 6 to even the best-of-seven series at 3-3.

BOSTON — Just as Boston Bruins President Cam Neely chucked his water bottle against the wall of his press box suite, fans at TD Garden littered the ice with yellow towels in a similar statement of displeasure with the referees. The St. Louis Blues had just taken a two-goal lead in the third period of a pivotal Game 5 in the Stanley Cup Final, and it was a noncall in the sequence leading directly to the goal that has again ignited gripes about the NHL’s officiating during these playoffs.

Bruins coach Bruce “Butch” Cassidy might spend a few minutes the next couple of days mulling over lines, but not the ones he’ll use Sunday night in his Game 6 pregame pep talk delivered in the visiting locker room of Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev has been suspended for Sunday’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final after delivering an illegal check to the head of Boston Bruins forward Marcus Johansson in Thursday’s Game 5.

Inevitable signs of rust will surface for the Bruins when they resume play Monday night at TD Garden for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, but their play during the seven-game winning streak they carry into the quest for the Cup outweighs those concerns.

BOSTON — They’re planning, plotting and strategizing, trying to nail down perfect-world scenarios that will cover at least the start of the series. Sometimes the Bruins will get their preferred head-to-head personnel matchups; often they won’t.