Charlie McAvoy’s emotional roller coaster, and other Bruins thoughts
ST. LOUIS — Serving up a few toasted raviolis while wondering who will represent the Bruins here at next year’s All-Star Game . . .
■ Charlie McAvoy, still six months shy of his 22nd birthday, will play in his 41st playoff game Wednesday. That is significant postseason experience for such a young player.
Being this close to the prize, however, has him wide-eyed.
“Man, I’m going through this and this is my first Stanley Cup and it’s just a lot,” he said after the Bruins shipped the Cup to Boston with a 5-1 victory in Game 6. “I’ll just be honest with you. The emotions . . . like, crap, it’s a lot.
“Our backs are against the wall, and you have so many mixed emotions. You do whatever it takes. This is your dream to win this thing, and when your backs are against the wall and you know they’re one away, it hurts a little bit.”
McAvoy said he was calmed after hearing the words of Patrice Bergeron and other Bruins veterans unshaken by these situations.
“We’re a family,” he said. “We believe in each other, and we all love each other.
“Just the thought of it being over tonight was terrifying. We’d come all this way. We come together when it matters, and I think tonight was just a good example of that.
“We’re thankful. We’re blessed with a chance to play in Game 7 now. It’s going to be the same thing. It’s a lot. It’s a roller coaster, and you’ve just got to ride it.”
■ The bulk of the Bruins’ roster traveled more than 16,000 miles via air alone during the 10-day preseason trip to China (Boston to Shenzhen to Beijing and back), with hours of bus travel. Here they are playing in the last game of the season, after 82 games and two months of next-level intense playoff hockey. How much energy will they have for Game No. 106?
“Lots,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
“We had lots of energy last night, do-or-die game,” Cassidy said Monday. “I don’t think it was all emotion or adrenaline. Some of it is what’s at stake, and Wednesday there’ll be some more of that. But we’re OK.”
Other than Matt Grzelcyk (“a wild card” for Wednesday) and Zdeno Chara (jaw), and players lost earlier (Kevan Miller to a knee injury April 4, Chris Wagner to a shot off his arm in Game 3 of the Carolina series), the Bruins are “relatively healthy for this point of the season,” according to the coach.
■ Miller, whose snarl on the back end would be a help in this rugged series, has stayed involved with the team “through text chains and different things like that,” Torey Krug said. “We obviously see him when we’re at home.” Wagner has been able to travel of late.
“We’re all pulling for one another, we love each other, and what Kevan has done for this team has not gone unnoticed,” Krug said. “When you care about someone so much and they’re not able to perform at the level they want and be here with us, you feel for them. So he’s a big part of this team like everyone else.”
Wagner’s linemate, Sean Kuraly, said his pal “does a good job of keeping himself in the mix. He’s kind of that type of guy who, he’s around now and he skates, comes out to skate after and hangs out with the guys in the suite, in the meal room and stuff.
“You just try to keep him involved, talk about the game with him, in front of him, see what he sees from upstairs. But yeah, it’s got to be tough for him. You realize that, too, and he’s a big part of this team and made a sacrifice for the good of the team, like we’ve had so many guys do this year.”
■ If Boston wins the Cup, Tuukka Rask would be the obvious choice to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP. Even if St. Louis wins, Rask might have a case. He would be the first Finn, fifth player from outside North America, and first goalie since Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick went back-to-back in 2011-12.
“He’s our best player,” McAvoy said. “He has been all playoffs and all regular season.”
The winningest regular-season Bruins goalie (265-150-58) won his 50th postseason game Sunday (50-38), becoming the 19th goalie in league history to hit the mark.
Game 7 will be Rask’s 89th playoff game, passing Gerry Cheevers for most among Bruins. Cheevers was 53-34, but his playoff save percentage and goals-against (.902 and 2.70) fall short of Rask’s (.928 and 2.17).
Question for you, dear reader: If Bergeron and Chara are slam-dunk choices to have their numbers in the Garden rafters one day, where does Rask rate (and for that matter, what about Brad Marchand)?
■ Based on the set regulations, 24 Boston players would automatically qualify to get their names on the Stanley Cup. The latest is Karson Kuhlman, who scored in his Cup Final debut in Game 6.
“Yeah, that had been talked about,” he said. “Obviously that would be awesome.”
The Bruins would likely petition for Miller, who fell short of the inscription benchmarks for the regular season (41 games; he played 39) and postseason (one game in the Final).
■ Ticket prices for Wednesday are sky high. VividSeats says its average price as of Monday morning was a cool $2,056.