By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
There's plenty of blame to go around for the Bruins in their Game 7 loss to the Blues, which awarded the Stanley Cup to St. Louis. But if Wednesday night boiled down to a single mistake, it's the mind-numbingly poor decision by Brad Marchand that proved to put the game out of reach.
It's incredible that Game 7 was effectively over after the Blues' second goal of the game in the first period. But it was that kind of swing. With just 12 seconds left and the Blues rushing his way with a 1-0 lead, Marchand covered for Matt Grzelcyk and manned up on Jaden Schwartz momentarily, before inexplicably peeling off for a line change instead of riding out the period. It opened a clear lane for Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, who found the slot and lifted it over Tuukka Rask to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
Forty minutes later, Pietrangelo was first in line to hoist the Stanley Cup. And for most of the final two periods, it felt like Marchand and the Bruins had run out of answers.
Rask will catch some heat for failing to bail Marchand out with a save. The Blues' rush started in the first place because of an offensive zone turnover by David Pastrnak. But the plain reality is he made a mistake he'll regret for the rest of his career, even if he does win another Stanley Cup some day.
Marchand was accountable for the mistake after the game. But there's no adequate explanation for a mistake like that.
"I don’t know. They chipped it in and I thought that guy was by himself so I looked for a change, and a couple more guys jumped into the play," said a despondent Marchand, who finished the 2019 playoffs with 23 points in 24 games and five points in the Cup Final. But unfortunately, this season he'll be remembered for a single point at 5-on-5 and his unforgettable blunder that permanently damaged the Bruins in Game 7.
Boston outplayed the Blues in all situations for about 15 minutes on Wednesday. But once Ryan O'Reilly put St. Louis on top, the wheels started to come off. The Blues packed it in for the final 40 minutes after Pietrangelo's goal and the Bruins looked dumbfounded for much of it. Marchand's mistake made it feel as if the Bruins' overwhelming attack for most of the first period never happened.
Marchand is unfortunately going to have to live with that. He's absolutely still one of the most dynamic wingers in the NHL, and scored as such over the totality of this playoff run. But that's not how he's going to be remembered this season. He'll be remembered for an inexcusable error on the biggest stage in hockey.
"It’s a heartbreaker. It’s tough to describe,' Marchand said. "You know, they just took our dream, our lifetime dream from us, and everything we’ve worked for our entire lives, and it’s 60 minutes away from that. You can’t describe it."
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].