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.
If the Bruins put together back-to-back victories to claim the Stanley Cup, Cassidy’s speech won’t likely become the centerpiece for a movie. Mark Wahlberg need not worry about memorizing the lines and mastering the coach’s inflection.
Cassidy won’t call his players “boys” as Herb Brooks did in his famous Miracle on Ice speech before the Americans beat the Soviet Union in Lake Placid in 1980. Brooks was addressing young amateurs, colossal underdogs. Cassidy will speak to pros, a handful of whom already won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
You don’t have to believe in miracles to envision the Bruins winning their seventh Cup. Cassidy’s mirror does not cast a spell on him. He’s under no delusions that he must make a speech immortalized on the silver screen.
“I think the players know what the moment is,” Cassidy said Friday from the podium at Warrior Ice Arena before the Bruins left for St. Louis. “We can draw on previous experience. This particular group went into Toronto, tough environment, first round. We won a game on the road, came back and won it at home, and that’s the reason we’re still playing; one of the reasons.”
The down-to-earth coach went from reaching back seven weeks to going all the way to eight years ago to make his point.
Zdeno Chara was the Bruins’ captain when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and still is. Patrice Bergeron wore an “A” on his sweater then and now. David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask, then backing up Tim Thomas, had their 24 hours in possession with the Cup.
“The group that won the Cup, they had to win the last two (against the Canucks),” Cassidy said. “They were down, 3-2, reversed, home first and then the road, but still, they’ve lived it, certainly know we’re capable of it.”
As for the head game, the role Cassidy plays in getting the players ready is more one of cleansing than fueling.
“It’s a little about getting their minds in the right place,” Cassidy said. “Every player’s probably a little bit frustrated for a different reason, so let’s get them out of their own way, so to speak, and just breathe and play.”
Sunday will be the last time the Bruins can count on one emotional advantage. It’s a potential elimination game for them and not for the Blues. If the series reaches the limit, the teams will bring equal desperation to the ice for Game 7 at TD Garden.
“There’s a certain pressure level on the team that’s up as well,” Cassidy said. “I mean, they’re going home and if it doesn’t go their way, then all the sudden they’re thinking — listen, I can’t speak for their psyche — but halfway through the game it’s not going their way, all the sudden, ‘Boy, we might go back to Boston now.’ You know, maybe they get outside their comfort zone the way they play. So there’s a challenge for them as well. For us, (if) we don’t win, our season’s done. If they lose, they get to keep playing. It might enter their minds. It might not.”
The desperation element definitely will stay in the Bruins’ minds and fuel their actions.
“For us, if it doesn’t go our way, we’re packing and that’s it. It’s over,” Cassidy said. “Our guys have responded well all year. This is a group that plays hard. I’m not concerned at all with our effort and that part. It’s can we execute enough? Can we play our game better than they play theirs and keep playing?”
Another way of putting that: Are the Bruins as good as the Blues?
We’ll find out Sunday.